The Great Labor Day Storm of 1970

Posted: Updated:

The Great Labor Day Storm of 1970…

The storm hit Arizona on September 4 and 5 of 1970.

The remains of tropical storm Norma brought severe flooding to the state. This storm dropped the most rain ever along the Mogollon Rim, near Payson, stretching from Workman Creek to Parker Creek to Crown King. The most rainfall in 24 hours reported in one range gauge outside of Globe was 11.92 inches. In our dry desert landscape, 11 inches in 24 hours falls into the extreme weather category. Phoenix received 2.43 inches and Scottsdale 4 inches from the storm.

For those enjoying their Labor Day weekend at one of the many campgrounds in the area, the storm would catch them off guard. Although NWS offices in Flagstaff and Phoenix both issued Flood Warnings and Severe T-Storm Warnings it was too late for some to get to higher ground. According to the National Weather Service, 23 people died in central Arizona, 14 of those from the flash floods near Tonto Creek.

Once the rain stopped and people got a look at the area, the rains and rising waters that flew through the creeks and rivers at such high levels had changed the landscape.

Record rainfall for the City of Phoenix was not set in this storm. That didn’t come until several years later in 2014 when Norbert slammed Phoenix with more than 5 inches of rain in 12 hours, producing flood waters that closed down several major freeways around the Valley. 

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Arizona's Family Weather BlogMore>>

  • Earliest mention of monsoon in Arizona

    Earliest mention of monsoon in Arizona

    Wednesday, July 11 2018 9:29 AM EDT2018-07-11 13:29:04 GMT
    The Arizona monsoon probably got its name back in the late 40s. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)The Arizona monsoon probably got its name back in the late 40s. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    The first mention of the monsoon in Arizona occurred in the 1940s.

    More >

    The first mention of the monsoon in Arizona occurred in the 1940s.

    More >
  • Fourth of July ushers in weather pattern change

    Fourth of July ushers in weather pattern change

    Tuesday, July 3 2018 2:55 PM EDT2018-07-03 18:55:53 GMT

    The Fourth of July is typically a hot and dry holiday in Arizona.  And while that will be the case this year, a big weather change is headed our way later this week. 

    More >

    The Fourth of July is typically a hot and dry holiday in Arizona.  And while that will be the case this year, a big weather change is headed our way later this week. 

    More >
  • Full moon alert: Saturn and strawberry moon to brighten the night sky

    Full moon alert: Saturn and strawberry moon to brighten the night sky

    Thursday, June 28 2018 8:51 AM EDT2018-06-28 12:51:38 GMT
    (Source: National Weather Service)(Source: National Weather Service)
    (Source: National Weather Service)(Source: National Weather Service)

    Wednesday will be a great night for stargazers. We will have a full moon and a great view of Saturn. Saturn will be closest to the Earth on Wednesday, making it a great opportunity to view and see the planet in detail.   

    More >

    Wednesday will be a great night for stargazers. We will have a full moon and a great view of Saturn. Saturn will be closest to the Earth on Wednesday, making it a great opportunity to view and see the planet in detail.   

    More >