Monsoon storm tore down billboard, uprooted tree; damage scattered throughout Valley


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Gibby Parra

Posted on July 12, 2012 at 7:11 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 12 at 5:53 PM

PHOENIX -- Mother Nature unleashed her fury on the Valley overnight, knocking out traffic lights all over the metro area and even tearing down a billboard.

Lightning struck the billboard near 16th Street and Broadway Road. As a large chunk of that billboard fell, it cut a power line. Debris from the billboard was flung all over. A portion of the sign was blown across the street.

Jim Shane, a security guard who was in the area, saw it all happen from his car.

"I turned and I watched as parts of that sign came flying off of there," Shane said. "It hit the lights, busted 'em, and flew across the street, took out the power lines and strung 'em across the road. It was a mess."

Shane clear some of the debris from the roadway to make it safer for other drivers in the area. When he grabbed a tarp that was wrapped around the billboard only to discover it also was wrapped around electrical lines.

SRP was on the scene all morning, fixing the downed line.

No injuries were reported.

While the forceful storm touched almost every part of the Valley, the damage was scattered.

That damage includes a fire at a building that was struck by lightning at 40th Street and Camelback Road and a large tree that was uprooted at 24th Street and University Drive. The root ball of that tree was at least 6 feet in diameter. It took part of the in-ground watering system with it when the tree went over.

In the neighborhood of Second Avenue and Gardenia Drive, a light pole and street sign went down.

The storm wasn't just about thunder and massive amounts of lightning. Most parts of the Valley saw some rain.

Rainfall totals from the storm varied from about 0.25 inch to 0.3 inch in areas like Mesa, Gilbert and Apache Junction, to as much as .75 inch in parts of Scottsdale and Maricopa. About 0.3 inch was reported in downtown Phoenix and 0.24 inch came down at Sky Harbor International Airport.

While the overnight rain is a good start, we do need more. We're nearly 2.75 inches behind where we should be for this time of year.

3TV meteorologist April Warnecke said there's another chance of storms Thursday and Friday nights, explaining that there is quite a bit of moisture and instability in the weather pattern.