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Firefighters check on a vehicle stuck in flooded Tucson Boulevard at Kleindale. The driver exited safely.
Rick Wiley / Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Region

Tucson area gets welcome soaking

Roads flooded; UA game delayed more than an hour
By Eric Swedlund
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.19.2004
Rain pelted the Tucson area Saturday, flooding roads, with lightning causing more than an hour-long delay at the Arizona-Wisconsin football game in one of the wettest days so far this year.
The late-summer soaking is expected to continue today as a strong low-pressure system from Southern California pulls moisture from the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Javier into Southern Arizona.
Tucson International Airport received 0.37 of an inch of rain and the University of Arizona reported 0.89 of an inch, said Mike Schaffner, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
The weekend rain provides some relief from a relatively dry monsoon, with just nine other days of measurable rain reported since the season officially started July 8. After no measurable rain was recorded in May or June, July and August each had four days of measurable rain and a handful of other days in which a trace fell at the airport.
Rainfall was enough Saturday to rescue the 2004 monsoon from the rank of second-worst ever, though the year's rainfall of 5.80 inches remains far below normal.
The monsoon total through Saturday was 2.38 inches. The driest monsoon on record was 1924, with 1.59 inches, followed by 1973, with 2.33 inches.
The 0.37 of an inch recorded at the airport made Saturday the fourth-wettest day of the monsoon and the eighth-wettest of the year. The weather service expects rain through this evening, and a flash-flood watch will remain in effect until 6 p.m. today.
Lightning from the storm forced an 88-minute delay during the second quarter of Arizona's football game with Wisconsin. About half of the roughly 40,000 fans did not return to Arizona Stadium at the end of the delay, while the rest waited the storm out under the stands or in nearby tents or garages.
The rain kept coming after the game restarted, but UA officials, in regular consultation with the National Weather Service, determined that the lightning was out of range. Under NCAA policy, football games must be delayed for 30 minutes after the last lightning strike within six miles of the venue, according to UA operations manager Susan Meyer.
The delay forced the cancellation of halftime and a planned Pop Warner football game to be played during halftime ceremonies. Because there were only six minutes to play in the first half after the delay, coaches on both sides did not want to risk cooling off their players again during a halftime.
Significant running water or deep standing water closed several roads in the county, including West Overton Road and North La Cholla Boulevard at the Cañada del Oro wash. Other closures included Sabino Canyon Road north of Summerset Drive, Sandario Road north of Snyder Hill Road, Valencia Road at Arizona 86 and Kinney Road in Tucson Mountain Park, according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
The National Hurricane Center reported that Javier was weakening Saturday afternoon, downgraded to a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds dropping to 40 mph. The storm was centered in the Pacific Ocean, about 80 miles west of Cabo San Lazaro in Baja California. Javier is expected to continue weakening as it slowly moves north.
Still, forecasters expect rainfall in the Tucson area today, with an 80 percent chance of showers and scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. A 50 percent chance of rain remains tonight, with cool temperatures and lows in the upper 60s.
Monday is expected to be mostly cloudy in the morning, with a 30 percent chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms and highs in the upper 80s.
The chance for rain diminishes Monday night as the skies are expected to start clearing. Tuesday should be mostly sunny with highs in the upper 80s. Highs Wednesday are predicted to be near 90. High temperatures are expected to remain in the lower 90s through next weekend, with lows near 60.
● Reporter Bruce Pascoe contributed to this story. ● Contact reporter Eric Swedlund at 629-94112 or at eswedlund@azstarnet.com.