After months of perpetual blue skies, this weekend offered a deluge, lightning strikes and power outages.
Clouds gathered each afternoon to dump rain so dense drivers delayed getting on roads.
Impressive shows of lightning accompanied bone-jarring explosions of thunder.
Precipitation in the last 24 hours has ranged from .71 inches in Payson to three inches in Pine, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather caused power outages throughout the Rim Country, some brief, some lasting for hours.
And it’s not over.
“Be prepared for unstable weather over the next 10 days,” said Darren McCollum, the lead forecaster for the National Weather Service from his office in Flagstaff.
McCollum said weather patterns show a high-pressure zone sitting over the central part of the U.S., causing air full of moisture to come up from Mexico in a classic monsoon weather pattern.
Moreover, Pacific weather patterns are in flux as a result of a shift from a La Niña to an El Niño model. Meteorologists declare an El Niño pattern when the temperature of the sea around the equatorial zone in South America measures half a degree Celsius above normal, said McCollum.
“Right now we’re just about two months into the higher sea temperatures,” he said. “After another month, we may officially say we’re in an El Niño pattern.”
El Niño brings more wet weather to the Southwest, especially in the winter.
Sunday actually produced two major storm cells in Rim Country, punctuated by bright sunshine and hot muggy weather.
McCollum said that does not surprise him. Moisture, plus sun, plus instability, equals intense monsoon rain showers.
“It’s like marbles on a table bouncing around,” said McCollum to explain how the conditions play against one another to create the cells of storms.
Anyone sitting outside on Sunday felt the gusts of wind that ushered in the storms. Those gusts of wind continue to bunch hot and cold air together causing more wet weather — and so it goes, said McCollum.
McCollum admits monsoon rains remain unpredictable. It might pour in Payson and stay dry in Rye — or Pine. It all depends on where the weather originates and how many ridges or mountaintops stir up the conditions.
“These things are a hit or miss thing,” said McCollum.
He said the weather this weekend originated in the southeast and continued marching on through to the northwest.
The storm wreaked havoc with APS electrical lines in Payson, but only affected small pockets in communities around the rest of the state, said Dan Wool, an APS spokesperson.
“Last night’s storm just affected small pockets throughout central Arizona,” said Wool.
About 450 customers were affected by power outages in Payson, said Wool.
“One started at 4:50 p.m. and went back on line at 5:20,” he said. “The other started at 7:46 p.m. and came back on by midnight.”
Residents around the airport area on the outskirts of town reported their power out from four to five hours.
Around 8 p.m. last night, the KMOG radio station reported a brief outage, but the power came on shortly after, allowing them to continue broadcasting.
Wool called these types of outages “momentary outages.”
He explained two different types of momentary outages. In one case, a two-line power line can switch to using a single line if the other receives damage. In the other case, a circuit closed due to storm damage might open again soon after minimal impairment to restore power with a brief interruption.
Wool said electrical outages are just part of the monsoon season.
“Happens this time of the year with storms,” he said.