Storms cut power to 13K, leave mess across Tucson

2012-07-16T00:00:00Z Storms cut power to 13K, leave mess across TucsonCarmen Duarte and Gabriela Rico Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

More than 1,000 lightning strikes were recorded Sunday when two brief but fierce storms blew through the Old Pueblo.

The storms downed power lines and trees, produced flash flooding and prompted several swift-water rescues.

North Oracle Road was closed from West Limberlost to West River roads after the storms rolled through around 4:30 p.m.

Chris Rasmussen, a Tucson meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the storms dumped 2 1/2 inches of rain in 90 minutes over the city. Hail as large as 1 inch in diameter fell in midtown. Wind gusts of up to 60 mph were recorded at Tucson International Airport.

Tucson Electric Power Co. crews were working overnight to restore power to about 11,500 customers in the Tucson area and 1,800 in Marana, said spokesman Joseph Barrios.

Six power poles were leaning or down by Tucson Mall, and eight power poles were down along Tangerine Road.

City of Tucson maintenance crews were dispatched to cut trees that were blocking roadways and clean debris with street sweepers, said Michael Graham, the city's spokesman. Engineers were working with TEP to restore traffic signals, Graham said.

One of Sunday's storms developed over Marana and another over the Corona de Tucson and Sahuarita areas. The latter storm was the one that crept north over Tucson, causing most of the damage. The two storms never merged, Rasmussen said.

The hardest-hit area was northwest Tucson, which got 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 inches of rain. Rasmussen said the southwest side received between 1 and 2 inches of rainfall.

He said runoff was expected to cause flooding of washes, roads and other low-lying areas throughout the night.

Tucson Mall itself was reportedly damaged, but the extent was unknown.

Law enforcement and firefighters responded to multiple calls of motorists in washes, one submerged vehicle at East River Road and North First Avenue, and for removal of obstructive debris on roadways, including Interstate 19.

Officials with the Tucson Fire Department fielded 868 calls in a four-hour period Sunday.

The Northwest Fire District dispatched firefighters to two swift-water rescues at a wash and a flooded intersection. No one was injured, said Capt. Paul Mischel.

The west bank of the Santa Cruz River is closed at Drexel Road until further notice, Graham said.

Drexel Heights firefighters were called to a mobile home that was blown over southwest of Tucson. No injuries were reported.

Sunday's high temperature was 95 degrees, which dropped to 69 when the storms arrived.

This week's forecast calls for scattered showers and thunderstorms through Tuesday. More rain could be possible toward the end of the week, Rasmussen said.

On StarNet: See more photos of Sunday's storms at azstarnet.com/photo

flash-flood Danger

The National Weather Service offers advice for staying safe in the event of a flash flood:

• Never drive into a flooded roadway or around barricades.

• Be especially cautious at night, when it's difficult to recognize flooding dangers.

• Don't let children play near washes or storm drains during or after a rainfall.

• Don't camp near a stream or in the bottom of a steep-sided canyon in rainy seasons.

• When hiking or camping, be aware of escape routes to higher ground, even if it's not raining. Distant thunderstorms can result in flash floods miles away as runoff flows downstream.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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