Monsoon 2017 ends Saturday; will be remembered for flash floods

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A flash flood swept through a swimming hole near Payson (Source: Photo courtesy of Amy Lloyd) A flash flood swept through a swimming hole near Payson (Source: Photo courtesy of Amy Lloyd)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Monsoon 2017 officially ends Saturday, and this season will be remembered most for its deadly and powerful flash floods.

"We lost half our family. There were six grandkids. Now there are only three," said Luz Garnica.

On July 15, a day of celebration for the Garnica family turned into horror, when a flash flood swept through the swimming hole they were at, just north of Payson.Ten out of 14 family members were killed in the rushing waters.

A few days after the Garnica tragedy, residents in a Mayer community were evacuated when a torrent flooded their neighborhood. At least two families had to be rescued.

"This is the craziest monsoon season I've ever seen," said Mark Mills, a homeowner in Mayer.

The following week, a scary scene unfolded in Apache Junction. A woman was escorted out of her car by emergency crews when she drove into a road that unexpectedly transformed into a river due to flash flooding.

"She said it was very slow moving when she drove through it, then all of a sudden it was there on her," said Captain Michael Paul, of Superstition Fire and Medical.

On July 30, a harrowing video from a helicopter was taken when two adults and two children had to be plucked from the Tanque Verde Falls, northeast of Tucson. They were also trapped in flash flooding. Thankfully, they all made it out uninjured.

The National Weather Service recorded more than 150 reports of flash flooding across Arizona this monsoon.

In terms of rain, the official reporting station at Phoenix Sky Harbor was below average for the season, receiving just 2.32". The average rainfall from June 15 through September 30 is 2.71". The east side of the Valley received the most, with Queen Creek tallying about 6" of rain, Mesa at about 5", and Apache Junction at about 5".

Despite a lack of rain, a rare land-spout tornado was confirmed southwest of Downtown Phoenix on the evening of August 3. A microburst also caused substantial damage to trees, tables and chairs at the Phoenix Zoo, forcing the facility to close to the public due to weather for only the second time in its 50-year history. 

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