Rain starts falling early Friday in Phoenix, is expected to continue throughout day

Dec 22, 2023, 8:45 AM | Updated: 9:04 am

Traffic travels through rainy conditions on a Phoenix-area freeway....

A storm system brought rain into the Phoenix area on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic Camera)

(Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic Camera)

PHOENIX — Rain started falling across metro Phoenix early Friday, kickstarting what’s expected to be one of the wettest storms of the year.

“We’re going be seeing pretty widespread heavy rainfall with this,” Isaac Smith of the National Weather Service in Phoenix told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday morning. “So, a lot of areas will be seeing a good chance of seeing some pretty decent amounts.”

Several rounds of showers were expected to roll through the region throughout the day and into Saturday before tapering off.

Skies are expected to be mostly sunny Sunday and Monday for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with high temperatures in the low 60s.

Forecasters anticipate rainfall totals in the range of 1-1.5 inches by the time the storm clears out. Most of the Valley already received between 0.1 and 0.3 inches by 8 a.m., with some areas exceeding 0.4 inches.

A 24-hour flood watch went into effect at 6 a.m. Friday across a swath of southern and central Arizona, including the entire Phoenix area

“Much of the state will in for pretty good rainfall with the system,” Smith said. “So, we’re going to be looking at some much-needed rainfall, something that we haven’t seen for quite a while now.”

When did it start raining in Phoenix on Friday?

Friday’s first precipitation at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was detected around 5:45 a.m.

The airport gauge reading, which the National Weather Service uses for the city’s official records, was over 0.2 inches within two hours. That already surpassed the previous December total of 0.16 inches.

The city’s annual total through Thursday was 3.48 inches, which was 3.49 inches below normal for this time of year.

Friday’s storms cooled things off a day after Phoenix reached 78 degrees, a record high for the date.

The 63-degree temperature recorded just before 1 a.m. Friday might stand as the high mark for the day. Phoenix was in the mid-50s by midmorning.

How are storms affecting Valley driving conditions?

The early rainfall made for slick roads during rush hour. Multiple crashes were reported across the Valley freeway system, but the overall morning commute was lighter than usual entering the holiday weekend.

Transportation officials advise motorists to plan for longer travel time during rainy conditions, leave plenty of braking room, use headlights and avoid driving through areas of standing water.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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Rain starts falling early Friday in Phoenix, is expected to continue throughout day