Cars Engulfed as Rain Sets Record For Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) -
Cars are stuck in flood waters on I-10 east at 43rd Ave. after heavy storms pounded the Phoenix area early Monday, flooding major freeways, prompting several water rescues and setting an all-time single-day record for rainfall in the desert city. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)
Cars are stuck in flood waters on I-10 east at 43rd Ave. after heavy storms pounded the Phoenix area early Monday, flooding major freeways, prompting several water rescues and setting an all-time single-day record for rainfall in the desert city. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)

The remnants of Hurricane Norbert pushed into the desert Southwest and swamped Phoenix with record rainfall for a single day, turning freeways into small lakes and sending rescuers scrambling to get drivers out of inundated cars.

In Tucson, one woman died after her car was swept away by heavy floods and became trapped against a bridge.

A flash flood warning was issued for most of the Phoenix area and its outskirts through Monday morning because of heavy thunderstorms and showers associated with Norbert after it was downgraded to a tropical depression.

Flash flood watches covered most of the rest of Arizona.

Sections of Interstates 10 and 17 in west Phoenix were closed during the morning commute. A state Department of Public Safety officer used the roof of his SUV to carry three stranded motorists from a flooded area of I-10.

Cars and SUVs sat in water up to their hoods on the freeway, while dozens of other motorists parked on its wide, banked borders to stay clear of the water.

By late morning, the water on I-10 had receded, allowing trucks to take away several dozen vehicles that had been swamped and stranded.

The National Weather Service recorded 2.99 inches of rain by about 7 a.m., breaking the old record of 2.91 inches set in 1933. The rainfall also eclipsed Phoenix’s average total rainfall of 2.71 inches for the entire summer rainy season in Phoenix.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said its pumping stations couldn’t keep up with the downfall on freeways.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer declared a state of emergency because of the flooding and told non-essential state workers to stay home.

Scattered electricity outages were reported, with over 10,000 customers losing power.