Over the weekend, Hurricane Lorena barreled up the Baja coast, danced over northern Mexico and sloshed into Arizona. By Monday morning, lightning flashed, up to four inches of rain fell around the state, and flash floods gushed down normally dry washes.
Payson received 1.57 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Some residents in Tonto Basin recorded more than 4.5 inches.
“The most rain I have seen come down in a single storm since I moved to Tonto Basin three years ago,” Darrell Wendel wrote on a Tonto Basin community Facebook page.
The heavy rains finally lifted the Tonto National Forest’s fire restrictions. As of Sept. 24, the ban on campfires ended. Target shooting, smoking and use of chain saws also could resume.
The storm centered on the southern part of the state with some crazy results. Flooding stranded Phoenix drivers in flash floods. Other communities saw thousands lose power. A tornado even touched down in New River and possibly Willcox.
Unsettled low pressure kept storms going until Thursday.
The NWS predicts a windy weekend with a slight chance of storms.
Taking the brunt of the downpour, Tonto Creek rose to 3,700 percent of normal. Normally, it would be flowing at 8 cubic feet per second (cfs) at this time of year. But after the storms, the creek ran at 296 cfs.
Roosevelt Lake has the capacity to absorb all this water since it’s only 66 percent full.
The C.C. Cragin watershed has received 22 inches of rain since January, but the Salt River Project has released the water all summer, so the reservoir’s now about 58 percent full.
So much water flowed into the already full chain of reservoirs below Roosevelt that SRP opened up the floodgates and sent water rushing down the normally dry Salt River bed through the Valley. The surge of water closed many roads for a day where they crossed the Salt and other drainages.