Microburst knocks down poles, kills power to hundreds in Phx

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by Catherine Holland and Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on August 1, 2011 at 6:25 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 1 at 8:05 PM

Map: 27th Avenue, Lincoln to Van Buren streets

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Map:51st Avenue and Estrella Drive

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PHOENIX – Intense thunderstorms rolled through the Valley overnight, spawning at least one microburst that caused quite a bit of damage in Phoenix.

The extreme weather took down five or six power poles along 27th Avenue between Van Buren and Lincoln streets, leaving about 1,300 customers without power Monday morning. 

SRP hopes to restore power to 500 homes by 3:00am Tuesday morning.  The power company teamed with Fry's to provide free ice to people without electricity.

When the power lines went down, they landed on and around a pickup truck. The people inside that pickup reportedly had to be rescued. The truck was still in the street Monday morning.

APS crews have been on the scene all night. They hope to have things up and running by noon. Installing new poles could take several days.

The traffic light on the corner of 27th Avenue and Van Buren Street was bent nearly in two, with the sign and signal almost touching the ground.

Drivers were being advised to heed the closure signs and avoid the area.

Alternates include 43rd and 35th avenues, as well as Interstate 17. East-west alternates are McDowell Road and Interstate 10, and Buckeye Road to the south.

The National Weather Service is looking into the possibility that a microburst is to blame for that damage. Meteorologists said the storm brought sustained winds between 30 and 40 mph, and gusts up to 65 mph.

It was not only power poles that were damaged. The intense weather also toppled trees, tore down fences and billboards and ripped awnings from several buildings.

One resident of a nearby mobile-home park said his neighborhood looked like a "war zone."

"It's crazy. It's like the end of the world in this little part of town," another resident said.

There also was some serious weather damage on the other side of the Valley near 51st Avenue and Estrella Drive in Laveen. The storm damaged six power poles in that area. SRP was on the scene, trying to get power back on for about 600 customers. There was not estimate on when those repairs might be complete.

In the meantime, SRP and Fry's teamed up to hand out ice to customers who were without power. That distribution was going on at the Fry's at 51st Avenue and Baseline Road.

At the height of the power outages, some 17,000 homes were in the dark. Electricity was restored to most of those customers overnight.

By  9a.m. Monday, a total of about 1,300 homes -- 700 APS customers and 600 SRP customers --  were still powerless.

An update at 5:30 p.m. from SRP indicated, 500 customers were still without power in the area south of Elliot between 67th Avenue and 43rd Avenue. All power is expected to be restored by 3 a.m.

According to NWS, there is another chance of thunderstorms Monday evening and through the night into Tuesday morning.

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