Tropical storm spares Arizona's metro areas

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 18, 2014 3:14 PM
Tropical storm spares Arizona's metro areas

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A tropical weather system that sent Arizona residents frantically stocking up on sandbags spared the state's metro areas of any major rainfall, and residents went about their business Thursday amid dry streets and sunny skies.

The weakened storm zigged where National Weather Service forecasters thought it would zag. As a result, Tucson and Phoenix were not hit as hard as the forecast predicted.

"It took a hard right turn and defied all of the forecasts," meteorologist John Brost said.

The worst area was near the U.S.-Mexico border, where Nogales received about 3 inches of rain and Bisbee got about 5 inches.

Authorities in Cochise County were watching a rising river in a rural area. State Route 92 was closed on both sides of the San Pedro River because of flooding, as were some local roads in outlying areas, authorities said.

Search and rescue personnel, sheriff's deputies and Border Patrol agents rescued two women in the Portal area, where one had knee-deep water in her home, the sheriff's office said.

In New Mexico, much of the state remained under a flash flood watch as officials began preparing for more possible severe weather. The storm system's center approached the state Thursday bringing threats of flash flooding and possible mudslides in areas previously level by wildfires.

Hurricane Odile tore through the Mexican resort state of Baja California Sur late Sunday and Monday, where residents were still struggling Wednesday with a lack of power and drinking water. There were scattered reports of looting, and the Los Cabos airport was closed to commercial travel.

Last week, the remnants of Hurricane Norbert caused deadly flash flooding in Arizona. The single-day rainfall totals in Phoenix eclipsed the average total precipitation for the entire summer. Freeways became submerged after pumping stations could not keep up with the downpour.

The severe storm prompted people across the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas to load up on sandbags, but they didn't really need them.

Chris Radtke, a chief with the Pima County Sheriff's Department, was relieved there was no flooding that could have led to loss of life. But the buildup to the storm forecast also left him amused.

"The weather people still keep trying to predict nature," Radtke said while having coffee outside a Starbucks with two co-workers. "I think it's God's great way of joking with people."

Heidi Sample, who commutes nearly 25 miles to Tucson from Vail, said she was able to take her normal route to work.

"Last week, there was a lot more flooding," Sample said. "For the most part, we're OK either way if (a storm) hit or didn't hit."

More weather was forming in the Pacific, although early predictions don't show it being much of a threat. Hurricane Polo was off Mexico's Pacific coast and headed in the general direction of Los Cabos, although early predictions were for the center to remain offshore and sweep past on Sunday.

___

Associated Press writer Paul Davenport contributed to this report from Phoenix.