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.

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3TV/CBS 5 Weekend Weather Anchor

Ashlee DeMartino is part of the Arizona Weather Authority team and works every day to bring you accurate forecasts. Read more about Ashlee.

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