Monsoon Hits Phoenix Knocking Out Power in Mesa, Tucson Areas

August 29, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

While it’s been a drier than average monsoon season in Arizona, Wednesday’s monsoon brought wind, lightning, and heavy rain to many areas of the state.  More than an inch of rain fell in some locations, while Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport got only .14 inches, making it one of the driest seasons on record.

Lightning strikes resulted in several tree fires, and at least a few house fires, along with power outages for thousands of residents from Mesa to Tucson.  Some 19,000 SRP utility customers in the Mesa area lost power Wednesday evening, along with 14,000 APS customers.  More than 7,000 TEP customers in the Tucson area also had to deal with outages.  As of midday Thursday, more than 400 customers were still without power, and though SRP says most of its customers have been restored, its outage map showed nearly 1,000 customers without power.

The storms won’t give residents much of a break from the heat, however, as temperatures are again expected to reach 110 degrees Friday, though Labor Day Sunday and Monday could bring more monsoon moisture to the area.

The combination of dangerously high heat and monsoons brings a dual threat to utilities, which could face outages from storm damage as well as high draw as people try to stay cool.  For businesses, these outages can cause much more damage than just a few hours of downtime.  Expensive business technology – from servers and switches to communications platforms and firewalls – are full of tiny circuits that can break with even a small power surge.  Power outages are accompanied by surges when power goes out and when it is restored.   

The best way to protect any technology during a power outage is by installing properly sized power protection systems that regulate line voltage and prevent spikes in current from damaging circuitry.  Even if circuits aren’t immediately broken, every surge weakens them, making the more likely to sever in the future, causing potentially weeks of down time and lost business while systems are being replaced and restored – not to mention the costs involved.

Edited by Erik Linask