Heavy rain forces road closures, flood watches in Arizona

August 20, 2022 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Heavy rain closed roads in Tucson and triggered flood watches and warnings across much of Arizona on Saturday, with more in the forecast through the weekend.

More than 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) of rain fell Saturday in the mountains northeast of Tucson, the National Weather Service said.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries. But the service warned the heaviest rain was expected Saturday night into Sunday in parts of south-central and southern Arizona.

Most of southeast Arizona remained under a flood watch until 11 p.m. Saturday from Phoenix to the New Mexico state line and the Mexican border.

Up to 2 inches (5.1 centimeters) of rain had fallen in parts of Tucson by Saturday evening — 3.2 inches (8.1 cm) at Mount Lemmon northeast of town and 2.1 inches (5.3 cm) to the east in Cochise County near Cascabel.

Between 1 and 2 inches (2.5 and 5 cm) had fallen in Pinal County south of Phoenix, the service said. It said more than one-half inch (1.2 cm) of rain fell in just 11 minutes on the southeast outskirts of the city near Queen Creek.

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In northern Arizona, the biggest concerns were around burn scars from recent wildfires, including the Telegraph Fire where up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) of rain had fallen Saturday south of Flagstaff in the area where more than 280 square miles (725 square kilometers) burned in 2021.

The weather service said late Saturday showers were likely and thunderstorms possible again after 8 a.m. Sunday in Phoenix.

“Although the threat of heavy downpours will diminish ... through the overnight hours tonight, elevated flows in normally dry washes, small streams and rivers will likely continue overnight into early Sunday,” the service said.

On Friday, emergency crews rescued four hikers stranded in Sabino Canyon east of Tucson, and helped 41 students and staff from Marana off school buses that got stuck in high water when the monsoonal storms began to move in.