Rain from tropical storm hits Arizona
Tucson, Ariz. — People lined up in bumper-to-bumper traffic and scooped sand into trash and canvas tote bags Wednesday as rain from a weakened Pacific storm began to fall on Arizona.
It’s the second blast of hurricane-related weather to hit the desert region in the past two weeks — the result of an especially active Pacific storm season. Odile was once a Category 3 Hurricane, but was downgraded to a tropical depression by the time rain started falling in Arizona.
The Tucson and Phoenix areas received lesser-than-expected precipitation Wednesday, and no rain was falling in either location by mid-afternoon. But the forecast still calls for more precipitation to arrive in the next day, with up to 5 inches of rain predicted for Tucson.
“Don’t be lulled into thinking just because we didn’t get rain right now, that it’s not coming,” said John Brost, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Tucson. “It’s still heading this way, it’s just still south of the border.”
Meanwhile, desperate locals and tourists were in survival mode in the resort area of Los Cabos on Wednesday, with electrical and water service still out three days after Hurricane Odile made landfall as a monster Category 3 storm.
Mexico’s government continued to fly stranded tourists out of the area as the remnants of Odile drenched the northern state of Sonora and headed on a path forecast to take the rain into Arizona overnight.
Fearful of widespread flooding, people across Arizona rushed Wednesday to fill up sandbags to fortify their homes. Traffic backed up at two parks in Tucson where they were being given out.
The mayor of the border city of Nogales used his pickup truck to deliver sandbags to residents.
More than 40 people with bags and shovels huddled around a pile of sand as a steady rain fell at Reid Park. The pile dissipated in just minutes. It was the third pile since the makeshift sandbag station opened at 8 a.m. in the parking lot, said Cat Beddard, a Tucson Parks & Recreation employee.
Many residents — unaccustomed to flooding — brought grocery and trash bags to city sand piles to get ready for the storm.
Griselda Valenzuela showed up with her 1 ½-year-old son and hoped to get 10 bags. “I don’t want the house flooding and my son walking around,” Valenzuela said.
Odile tore through the Mexican resort state of Baja California Sur late Sunday and Monday, where residents were still struggling Wednesday with a lack of power and drinking water.
There were reports of looting, and the Los Cabos airport was closed to commercial travel.
About 70 miles south of Tucson, officials in Nogales have spent the past week preparing for storms. Nogales is downhill of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, meaning rain water from the Mexican side doesn’t take long to seep into the city’s washes.
“This happens to us ever year. We don’t need a hurricane for us to get flooded,” Mayor Arturo Garino said.
Last week, the remnants of Hurricane Norbert caused deadly flash flooding in Arizona. The single-day rainfall totals in Phoenix eclipsed the average total precipitation for the entire summer.
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