After battering California with torrential thunderstorms, Hurricane Norbert reached out across the desert from off the Pacific coast and pounded the Southwest with epic rain and flooding. Still full of fury, the relentless North American Monsoon remains over Arizona, continuing the deluge while setting new rainfall records.
A flash flood warning will remain in place throughout the day as the violent storms continue to hammer the Grand Canyon state.
Heavy rains have continued to drench Phoenix, reports Reuters, forcing schools to cancel classes while roads and two major freeways were closed.
Morning commuters found their normally sun-soaked desert roadways transformed into lakes, with the rain flooding several areas and making Interstates 10 and 17 more suitable for a jet ski or boat than a car.
The intense downpours and resulting desert seas caused Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to declare a statewide emergency for all the affected areas via Twitter.
Desert flash floods, which often strike canyon areas but can roll down into the flatlands and through normally dry creeks as well, are of particular concern as people find themselves suddenly in the crosshairs of this often violent, surprising and potentially lethal form of flooding.
Along with the statewide emergency, Governor Brewer also encouraged people to stay home if possible.
The over 2.9 inches of rain that dumped on Sky Harbor International Airport broke the all time one-day record for rainfall in Phoenix set in 1933. But despite the rain, according to airport spokeswoman Heather Lissner, planes were still taking off and landing.
Other problems caused by the desert storms include downed power poles and power lines all over Phoenix, leaving at least 20,000 residents without electricity.
“Our power outage map kind of looks like a Christmas tree right now,” said Jeff Lane, a spokesman for Salt River Project, which serves the metropolitan Phoenix area as operators of local power plants and water facilities.
Flooding south of Phoenix in Tucson claimed a life as the storms maintained their relentless charge through Monday.
Tucson News Now reports the victim died after getting trapped in their car which got stuck in the middle of a raging wash on the east side of Tucson near East 22nd Street and South Kolb Road on Monday morning.
The Tucson Fire Department responded to the scene but were unable to save the stranded motorist, instead having to wait until the water receded before they could retrieve the unfortunate flood victim’s body.
The intense downpours over Tucson turned many washes into raging rivers that kept emergency crews on the run with several reports of other stranded motorists being rescued.
As the storms continue, Governor Brewer thanked the emergency responders, and as the storms head north, Arizona may have a chance to dry out.
Images via Tucson News Now and Facebook