Tucson's monsoon roared to life Thursday with storm cells that passed through the metro area, bringing sporadic rain and strong winds that toppled a metal art installation across a busy roadway.

Witnesses reported the strong winds caused the large metal column at the 22nd Street and Kino Parkway overpass to fall into the street, closing both southbound lanes of travel for several hours. There were no reported injuries and work crews cleared the fallen column from the street and reopened the lanes of traffic at about 6 p.m.

City staffers blamed a microburst for the incident, which also took down a tree in the northbound lanes.

The column is designed to decorate street lighting. 

City officials believe the column may not be salvageable, with the metal structure have been ripped away from its base at the welded areas.

Similar columns nearby, which are not as tall, are not believed to pose any safety hazards.

Also, blowing dust closed a portion of Interstate 10 east of Picacho Peak Road for nearly 40 minutes Thursday afternoon.

While the storms are mainly impacting mountain areas, the National Weather Service in Tucson recorded .13 inches of rain in the city along with strong wind gusts.

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Aaron Hardin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the biggest impact on mountain ranges is due to the elevation where the storms are forming.

More thunderstorms are expected to arrive this weekend, bringing increased chances of rain heading into next week. Hardin said the area will receive persistent monsoon moisture with measurable rainfall to the area.

Excessive heat warnings occurred on Thursday as temperatures reached 111 degrees in Tucson, according to the weather service. Forecasts of heat will slowly drop from more than 100-degree temperatures to the mid-90s next week. 

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or sdavis@tucson.com

On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1


Shaq is a public safety reporter and the Road Runner columnist, keeping readers up to date on transportation news. In 2017, he started as an apprentice and later worked part-time until graduating from the UA and being offered a full-time position in 2018.