PHOENIX – Flash flooding snarled rush hour traffic in Phoenix Tuesday evening, while the heavy monsoon rains also inundated roadways in the Tucson area and prompted the evacuation of two high schools.
The flooding closed numerous roads and stranded drivers, prompting water rescues or assists in Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tucson, officials said.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department ordered the Vail School District to evacuate students at Pantano and Andrada Polytechnic high schools as a preventative measure.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Fire Department said officials made water rescues amid the heavy rains. Officials said that included firefighters rescuing a man sitting on top of his vehicle along Interstate 17 and helping another man out of his car at another location.
Officials said Interstate 17 in Phoenix was closed at Indian School Road because of massive interchange flooding. The southbound lanes reopened later, but the Department of Transportation said about 10 p.m. that the northbound lanes would remain closed as crews worked to remove flood waters.
So much rain had fallen in a short span of time -- up to 2 inches in one hour in central Phoenix -- that the National Weather Service was referring to the storm as a 100-year event, meaning that amount of rainfall has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year, in a specific location, according to a report on the Arizona Republic website. Motorists were abandoning their cars near the intersection of Camelback Road and 35th Avenue.
In Tucson, Officials told the Arizona Daily Star that crews aided about 25 motorists on South Houghton Road near Interstate 10 when the rain caused travelers to stop along the road because of running water.
And the paper reported that Corona de Tucson Fire District crews were working on the southern end of Houghton near Sahuarita Road where they caravanned about 40 motorists to safety.
Flash-flood watches had been in effect for Tucson's outskirts and much of southeastern and eastern Arizona because of monsoon rain and thunderstorms.
Some areas near Tucson received nearly 2 inches of rain Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Authorities reported no injuries from the flooding, however.
A Monday afternoon storm brought rain, hail and lightning to Durango, Colorado. The storm started a small wildland fire and flooded businesses.