Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Historic Rainfalls

Phoenix, though in the Sonoran Desert, does get a bit of rain each year during this time, also known as the monsoon season. Typically, it starts in late June or early July, and lasts a couple of months, during which time we usually get one good rain storm every week or two. This isn't much for most of the country, but to us who are used to no rain for months on end other times of the year, it's huge. 

Well, about three weeks ago, we got a lot of rain, which is really a blessing is disguise in spite of some minor flooding and road closures. It must have made national news, because this clown on the internet made a video in the middle of the night, urgently updating the world (or his few followers) that maybe this rain was God's judgement for my husband's preaching.

Well, if that doesn't just settle it! Turns out, my husband's preaching is little more than a rain dance. Still, I figured that storm was probably the last of the monsoon for this year.

Then, during the night from Sunday to Monday, we got what has since been dubbed "the storm of the century." It poured, and poured, and poured all night long, complete with thunder, lighting, and all. If you have ever been in the desert during a rain storm, you know that the water doesn't come down in drops, it comes down in sheets of water. At Phoenix Sky Harbor, total rain fall was measured at a record-breaking 3.29"

While historical, if you look at the above map, you will see that it was nothing compared to Tempe, where we got the most rain of any city in the entire Greater Phoenix Area, with 5.75 inches. This is only slightly below our typical total rain fall for the entire year, all in one night!

Near our house is a park that doubles as a "containment basin" for these extreme monsoon rains. Basically, the park dips quite low toward the middle, to allow flash floods to pool there rather than in the streets. 

After the kids were done with their morning subjects on Monday, we lugged our kayaks to the park, and made the best of the completely flooded park. We had seen it full before, but never completely. This time, the water overflowed the raised boundaries of the park, and completely flooded the street behind it. Our house did not get any flooding, though our pool came within a half inch of overflowing.

Can you spot the red and blue kayaks way back in the picture, in what would usually be the street?

 The water was shallowest on the sidewalk, and deeper in the street and park.

 At the deepest part right in the middle, it was probably 8 or 10 feet deep.

Later Monday, we approached the flooded street seen in the pictures above from the other end, where the water was considerably deeper. The kids thought we should drive down the flooded street all the way to the other end where we had put in the kayaks earlier that day. It seemed reasonable at the time - after all, we had seen other trucks leave their homes on that street earlier, and the water hadn't been that deep. After all, this was the "storm of the century," and I wanted the kids to have cool stories to tell their grandkids. "Hey, remember when that street in our neighborhood got completely flooded, and Mom drove us through it?"

See, it's not that deep... yet!

Well, we kept driving down the street, and it just kept getting deeper and deeper as we got closer to the park. Mind you, my van is built on the exact same frame as the Nissan Titan pickup truck, except that we have 12 seats instead of a cabin and truck bed. So I wasn't worried about being in too deep - not yet, anyway.

By the time we were within sight of the park, I was starting to get a little concerned, but this was hardly the place to make a 3-point turn in a giant van in a flooded neighborhood, or to back up with poor visibility of a flooded street. The houses on the left in the above picture were flooded by a few inches. All the way at the end in the picture, where the street curves and turns left, is where we had put the kayaks in earlier in the day. I knew it was shallow enough to drive there, and it wasn't much farther.

I did the only logical thing there was to do, and started taking pictures while pressing on, so we could later document at which point exactly the water had become too deep.

It was around this point that I seemed to be hearing gurgly noises from the hood. If it was too late to turn around earlier, it most certainly was now. I did keep to the middle of the street, where the water was its most shallow, and reminded myself that I had seen other trucks leave the street earlier in the day. Of course, there's no telling if the park had been less flooded at that time - ha!

As they say, all's well that ends well. :) I don't think there was ever any real danger, as the water never came  up above my tires, and the van is a high-clearance vehicle. After we got home, the boys grabbed their bikes and made the same trip on them, with the water coming to the top of their 24 inch wheels.

Crazy YouTube people notwithstanding, water is really a blessing to us in this naturally dry climate, after a particularly dry summer.

I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
Isaiah 41:18


  1. You are an excellent writer.

    1. You know, I never thought about it because I enjoy the content of this blog so much, but you're right. Zsuzsanna, you are an excellent writer!

      in His peace,

  2. As someone who lives where floods are almost par for the course at the end of summer weather change, my heart rate rose reading your posts. You never ever play in flood waters out here, nor drive into them without first knowing the depth and if there is any hidden debris. It is different with your pool of still run off compared to our swift moving torrent, but flood water requires the utmost caution as it can hide many dangers. As you said, there was probably no real danger in your case, but I have seen too much damage in apparently safe flood waters not to mention.. A road may simply no longer be a clear road due to the earlier storm, and depending where the water has run off from means you could be dealing with unknown contaminants. Still, in an area as dry as your own, I've no doubt it was a very different and exciting sight! I hope all that rain is beneficial.

    I hope the pool is not too much hard work to clean out, as I know from experience a heavy rainfall does not always leave a pretty sight!

  3. wow
    what a storm. How fun to get to kayak with your family though.

  4. I don't know about you but considering the droughts over the past few years, I thank God for all the rain I've been getting this year, and so should the guy who made that video!

  5. Kedves Zsuzsanna... semmi baj az angoltudásommal, de nem értettem a cikket! Most akkor valaki szerint Isten az Ön Férjének üzent az áradásokon keresztül?! Vagy micsoda? Hát ezzel az erővel üzenhetett akárkinek a szomszédságban. Nem értem komolyan az embereket, ha Isten személyes üzenetet akar átadni az Ön férjének, akkor az Önök háza fölé koncentrálja a felhőket, és még akkor sem biztos hogy neki üzen, elvégre laknak még ott kilencen. Na mindegy, nem értek néhány embert, komolyan mondom. Becky copfja nagyon jó, megpróbálom megcsinálni a saját hajammal is.

  6. Flood waters are incredibly, incredibly dangerous to drive through or play in. As little as two feet of water can float even a large bus, to say nothing of the fact that there could be large obstacles under the water, or the road could have been damaged, which wouldn't have been visible from the surface. The water itself is dangerous to walk and play in- flood waters are rampant with sewage and other hazardous chemicals, and it makes a handy conductor for any downed power lines in the area.

    Floods kill more people than any other natural disaster, per year. Obviously, no one was hurt this time, but it's much much better to be safe in these situations than sorry.

  7. LOL @ the guy on Youtube.......looks like ya'll had lots of fun =) We used to live in Vegas while my husband was stationed there at the AFB and I loved the desert weather with no humidity....but also enjoy the rain =)


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