Remembering Phoenix Deluge Day 2014

At about 2:30 a.m. on September 8, 2014 I was awakened from my sleep by the sounds of hurricane force wind and horizontal rainfall pounding against the side of the house. By the strobe produced by periodic flashes of lightning, I was able to see the palm trees arched in a leeward direction through our second level bedroom picture window. Once I realized it was just rain, I went back to sleep. An hour later the sounds woke me again, although this time they were louder and more intense.

My inner weather geek had to see this awesome spectacle of nature, so I sprung from bed and slipped downstairs. When I looked out the back patio door, I was shocked to see the water line about 4 inches from the door. Initially, I squeegeed some of the water to the edge of the patio until I realized water was beginning to flow from the side yard onto the patio. Repeated flashes of lightning revealed that our pool was close to overflowing if the rainfall continued at this rate. (And it did continue for a few more hours.) That would mean even more water coming toward the patio door. To avert that potential issue, I plugged in a sump pump and ran the water to our front yard via garden hose. Later I would realize just how important that move was when I discovered many of our friends and neighbors are dealing with water damage inside their homes.

As daylight came around, I could see that between both sides of our house and the stucco walls that enclose our property was 2″ to 3″ of standing water. My concern shifted to whether water would seep into our house from the sides. Thankfully, we had enough breaks in the rain throughout the morning to allow water to percolate into the ground. Once I was comfortable that we were not going to get flooded, I turned on the news to see what was going on around the metro.

Local TV stations showed numerous video clips of motorists stalled in standing water throughout the city. We’ve come to expect such displays of Darwinism during monsoon season, but usually car floodings take place in out of the way places involving some knucklehead trying to drive through a flooded wash. The scenes on my TV showed dozens of people stuck in water up to their car windows in the middle of Interstate 10 – the city’s primary artery for east-west travelers.

Video: Morning commuters on I-10 stuck in flash flood

There was more unforgettable footage including:

  • The lower two-thirds of our church’s auditorium was flooded
  • Water rose all the way to the rim of a 10-foot basketball hoop in a Mesa community
  • Some guy cruised around his neighborhood on a Jet Ski in Gilbert
  • Another guy piloted a radio controlled boat around the cul de sac
  • First responders helped carry babies to safety from their parents’ cars stuck in a daycare parking lot
  • A 911 call from an elderly man captured his panic moments before his bride drowned in a flooded wash

I didn’t think to snap any pics of the high water at our house, but thankfully one of the local TV stations published this slideshow of images from around the area.

During one newscast I watched, they reported that the September 8,  2014 rainfall was the greatest amount ever measured in one day. (Most cities around the metro received between 4 and 6 inches and records go back about 75 years.) Additionally, the one-day total was more than double the total of rain received over the prior 9 months. We don’t get a lot of rain in Phoenix, but when we do it can really leave a lasting impression.

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