Do you want to know a fun fact about Phoenix? Despite being a desert, we typically experience a few flash floods per year. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, the terrain is flat and the ground dense clay, which is not particularly porous. Secondly, the monsoon storms often entail Seattle-like days of drizzling interspersed with powerfully destructive microbursts that effortlessly rip century-old trees out of the ground and roofs off of carports.
My location has seen almost 4.7 inches of rain in the last 3 days, more than triple the entirety of last year. We live near a wash and, as of Friday afternoon, it had risen to four feet and was threatening our neighbors’ homes. Per the city, it was moving at at 4,201 cubic feet per second, which sounds as rapid as it appeared. We also live near the canal, which has risen to the highest level we’ve ever seen.
When attempting a quick errand on Friday, we realized that 3 of 4 streets to exist our neighborhood were impassable due to flooding, and the final was closed due to a dozen massive trees and downed power lines spanning the road.
In 2014, a similar microburst pummeled Phoenix, transforming our highways into a off-brand Vencian canal, and leading to thousands of car insurance claims. As a child, I remember snaking up and down different streets looking for a clear path to school on these stormy days. After months of monotonous sunshine, I lived for the rain. I watched lighting bursts through the bay window and watched the pink dye seep from my brand new sneakers into a puddle, with shock but not regret.
After more than three decades in the Valley of the Sun, I often find myself explaining that this is normal, not some evidential fingerprint of climate change. Native American stories talk joyously of the floods and their historic living structures are clearly designed to keep their inhabitants safe from flooding.
The desert is dancing. Those plants and animals that have weathered the storm are happy. Those of us who have seen the droughts are celebrating the downpour.
So, all those recent transplants who are complaining that “this is exactly what I was trying to get away from!” can shut their mouths and deal with it. This is exactly what you signed up for. It not our problem that you failed to read the fine print!