Heavy rain snarls morning commute in Phoenix area

PHOENIX (AP) — Heavy storms pounded the Phoenix area early Monday, flooding major freeways and small roads, breaking an 81-year-old rainfall record before dawn, and leading to several water rescues.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for most of the Phoenix area and its outskirts because of heavy thunderstorms and rain. Flash flood watches cover most of the rest of Arizona.

Sections of the major commuter freeways Interstate 10 and 17 in Phoenix were closed in the run up to rush hour.

Television video showed traffic crawling through standing water on I-10 in west Phoenix, and the state Department of Public Safety asked drivers to postpone their commute. Freeways at several underpasses resembled small lakes as the Arizona Department of Transportation said its pumping stations couldn’t keep up with the downfall.

In central Phoenix, Sky Harbor International Airport received over 2.55 inches of rain since midnight, breaking the old record of 1.33 inches on the same date in 1933.

Numerous street closures were reported in cities across the metro area, and the Phoenix Fire Department was performing several water rescues. In Scottsdale, 25 firefighters helped free a man trapped in his car by 3 feet of running water. He was evaluated and released. There were no immediate reports of any injuries.

Scattered electricity outages are reported in the metro area with over 5,000 customers losing power.

The Tempe Union High School District said the storm was delaying its start and that students could either stay home Monday or go to school late.

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