In Arizona and even in Nevada, record rain fall was recorded and flash floods swamped freeways and residential areas on Monday. It has been recorded that at least two people have died due to being trapped in the floodwaters. In Moapa, Nevada, flash flooding was reported about 45 miles northeast of Las Vegas on Monday afternoon. There had been a flash flood emergency that was declared in the area by the National Weather Service.
The Las Vegas branch of the National Weather Service stated that at one point, a dam in the community was just inches away from overtopping, but luckily the waters receded later on in the evening. On Monday night, the Nevada Highway Patrol said that there were many vehicles that were spotted floating down Interstate 15 in the Moapa area. On many social media sites, there have been pictures posted of I-15 near Moapa that is completely destroyed.
A rain gauge that is located in the Moapa area reported 4.67 inches of rain on Monday, which is more than two thirds of the average for that area. In the Las Vegas area, heavy downpours dumped one to two inches of rain in many neighborhoods that lead to extensive flash flooding. On Monday afternoon, at least two parking garages were flooded on the Vegas Strip, including the Quad Resort and Casino.
On Monday afternoon, all 29 miles of the Interstate 15 were closed due to flooding. A local fire department reported that it almost seemed like “waterfalls” flowing onto the freeway. They began diverting traffic from entering that stretch of the freeway.
In Phoenix, the Mayor Greg Stanton and the Governor Jan Brewer urged all non-government employees to stay home on Monday as they declared a state of emergency. In areas around Phoenix, including Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler their were widespread reports of homes and business underwater from the flash flooding.
Cars and even SUVs sat in the water that was up to their hoods on the freeway, while other motorists parked on the borders to avoid the rising waters. Interstate 10 between 51st and 35th avenues in Phoenix was one of the hardest hit stretches, but luckily it was cleaned up and re-opened at about 2 P.M yesterday. There were many school closures in the area due to the adverse weather. APS reported that about 10,000 customers were without power in the metro area, and it was difficult to restore the power due to the flooded roadways.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recorded an all-time wettest calendar day record, picking up 3.29 inches of rain since Midnight as of 4 p.m MST, breaking the previous record that was set 75 years ago. This is more than the average for July, August, and September combined.
The precipitation frequency estimate, which is set up by the NOAA, this heavy a precipitation event in a six hour time period has only a 0.002 percent chance of happening in any given year.
This event was so catastrophic because the desert terrain present in the area is already incapable of holding large amounts of water, and when heavy rainfall hits these urban areas, it is only imaginable that a disaster can occur. This threat continued throughout Monday, and the National Weather Service issued flash flood watches for parts of the five states listed: California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah.
On Sunday, Southern California emergency crews responded to many reports of stranded vehicles on parts of I-215 and Highway 74. Torrential downpours in the area caused downed trees and snapped power lines in the Riverside area. Emergency crews had to rescue several people trapped in their vehicles, but no injuries were reported.
California has been in a drought since April, and at least 94 percent of the state has been in drought since May 2013. Even though there were many heavy thunderstorms that pounded the region as of late, Riverside has still had less than 2.5 inches of rain since Jan 1st. That’s more than 7 inches below the average rainfall for the year to date.