Buckeye residents face a hot two days without electricity after thunderstorms pounded the Valley Thursday night, downing power poles and trees and interrupting flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for a time.
Steven Gotfried of Arizona Public Service Co. said most power to 780 of its customers in Buckeye will be restored by noon Saturday, but some customers won’t have it until Saturday night. Salt River Project estimated it had 500 customers still without power at noon Friday.
APS was distributing dry ice to the affected people at its customer service center in Buckeye, located near 4th Street and Baseline Road.
Buckeye resident Butch Kay said he’s getting used to this sort of thing.
“I can’t remember if was last year or the year before, but it seems like it’s always in August and it [storm] knocks down X amount of poles, they fix them, and the next year it just moves down the road and knocks the next batch down.”
There were still some flight delays Friday morning at Sky Harbor, where runways were shut down for about 40 minutes Thursday night.
Among the delayed flights was a scheduled 5 a.m. departure of Continental, which the airline said would not leave until 8:45 a.m.
“They just said there was so much high wind and rain they had to cancel the plane,” a woman passenger said. “The pilots diverted to Tucson and they have to have so much down time before they can take off again. So they’re trying to get us on other planes.”
A man said, “We got delayed flying in here. We had to fly into Tucson and refuel… it was an extra three hours coming in here, now it’s more getting out, it’s horrible.”
Another Continental passenger said it was a nightmare.
“The rain, the heat and now sitting in an airport for probably the next six hours.”
Sky Harbor’s runways were closed to all incoming and outgoing flights around 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Some incoming flights were diverted to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Tucson International Airport.
Hector Vasquez of the National Weather Service said the storms had several micro-bursts that caused high winds.
“There was a 56 miles-per-hour wind at Sky Harbor Airport; out in the west Valley, there was one report of 58 mph,” Vasquez said.
He added, “There were a lot of thunderstorms, real tall. I think I saw a couple of them that were up to about 60,000 feet.”
Air traffic was moving again at Sky Harbor by 9:15 p.m. but officials said the weather situation affected 20 to 30 flights. A few were still delayed this morning to allow pilots to get their required off-time.
Several passengers were stranded overnight at the airport.
“The airlines are working really hard to get them out this morning,” said Deborah Ostreicher of Sky Harbor. “Our crews were on scene all night, passing out water and what we call our overnight kits to help people through, with some toothpaste and a hair comb if they needed it to help them get through the night.”
Ostreicher said weather closures at Sky Harbor are “pretty rare.”
“It generally only happens maybe a couple of times during the summer,” she said. “The last two storms we had this week were especially heavy over the airport.”
Thursday’s storms packed lightning, strong winds and heavy rain with two inches of rain falling on some parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, according to the National Weather Service.
Salt River Project officials said about 4,000 of its customers lost electricity in the Phoenix area, and Arizona Public Service said about 21,000 of its customers were without power at the height of the storms.
Bunnell said 70 power poles were snapped or blown down in the Buckeye area.
The storms were remnants of Tropical Storm Edouard which it the Texas Gulf Coast earlier this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.