PHOENIX (AP) — A 70-day streak without any precipitation in the Phoenix area finally came to an end Saturday.
A gray sky, showers and even some hail greeted residents of Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs.
A storm system originally expected to bring rain by Friday evening started just after midnight, the National Weather Service said.
Charlotte Dewey, a meteorologist, said there had been a few reports of “pea-sized hail” northwest of Phoenix in the cities of Deer Valley, Peoria and Sun City West.
As much as an inch of rain was reported in areas northwest and north of central Phoenix, including in the White Tank mountains and Deer Valley. Tempe and the north Scottsdale area have received anywhere from 0.8 to one inch of rain.
Valerie Meyers, also a meteorologist, said there was also a chance of isolated thunderstorms and wind gusts between 30 and 35 mph for the rest of the day. But the storm system would taper off by Sunday, she said.
“By tomorrow afternoon, we’re looking at a pretty nice day for the lower desert,” Meyers said.
The weather has put a damper on several planned weekend events throughout Phoenix, especially for spring training fans.
In Mesa, a spring training game between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs was rained out Saturday. A short but steady downpour fell for a half-hour before the game’s scheduled start. Managers for both teams repeatedly inspected the field and determined conditions were unplayable.
In Glendale, a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox also was rained out. Later in Scottsdale, the scheduled night game between Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs was washed out by another round of the storms.
At Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race was cut short because of rain. After a delay of more than two hours with 32 laps left, the race was called, giving Kyle Busch the victory. NASCAR sent out the blowers in an effort to dry the track, but another round of storms moved across the area, soaking the track and ending the race.
Officials canceled the 4th Annual Downtown Phoenix Mardi Gras parade scheduled for 4 p.m. But a marathon race through Mesa, Phoenix and Tempe ran as scheduled.
Rainy weather was likely to blame for two traffic accidents in Tucson. Firefighters in Tucson had to pry a 64-year-old man out of his vehicle Saturday morning after a two-car collision. The man is listed in stable condition. In another collision, a 34-year-old woman was hospitalized with minor injuries.
Other parts of the state, including Flagstaff and Yuma, have also been hit by rain. Forecasters issued a winter weather advisory for Flagstaff from 6 p.m. until 10 a.m. Sunday for elevations above 7,000 feet.
It’s unlikely there will be a large accumulation of snow in or around the city of Flagstaff, Meyers said. About three to six inches of snow is expected to fall on isolated peaks between 7,000 and 8,000 feet.
The 70-day dry spell isn’t anything out of ordinary for this time of the year in the desert, meteorologist Ken Waters said.
“It’s a bit of a long streak, yes, but we’ve actually had some that were longer,” Waters said.
The impact from incoming weekend rain would be minimal in terms of the water supply, said Scott Harelson, a spokesman for the Salt River Project, the Phoenix area’s major water provider. The project’s reservoir system is only about 50 percent full, he said.
“We’re not anticipating a lot of runoff. The reason is the watershed is so dry right now,” Harelson said. “From a water-storage perspective, we’ll take whatever we can get.”
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