Crews clean up fallen trees after wet microburst - FOX 10 News |

Crews clean up fallen trees after wet microburst

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TEMPE, Ariz. -

It was a long day of cleanup around the valley following one of the biggest storms of the 2013 monsoon.

One valley golf course lost more than 80 trees and was forced to shut down for the day.

And another example of the strength of this storm -- look at this giant tree in Litchfield Park. The tree was knocked right out of the ground. Winds blew it over, leaving a big mess for crews.

Light poles and power lines were down in the streets, intersections were flooded, but the most damage seemed to come from trees, unable to sustain the wind and rain.

It's estimated a half an inch to 3/4 of an inch of rain fell in Tempe with wind gusts between 50 and 60 miles per hour. Monday, wood chippers and chainsaws could be heard throughout Tempe.

"The chainsaws have been running since 11:30 last night," said resident Jason Weegar.

Trees uprooted, lying on roofs, branches littering the streets. A Tempe spokesperson says the area with the most damage was from Rural to Priest and Guadalupe to Warner. Dozens of trees were down around grove parkway where Jason Weegar lives.

"It started hailing, I don't know how fast the wind was blowing but trees started coming down right in front of me."

The weather service says what happened here is called a wet microburst. You can think of it as a reverse tornado with the winds driven down, powered by cool rain. It left a lot of places looking like this, with split branches and uprooted trees.

"I was lucky my car didn't get messed up or anything like that."

These people were not so lucky. A tree fell on three cars, crushing two of them in the parking lot of the apartment complex at Elliot and Priest. Sabrina Ross couldn't even see her car until the tree was removed.

"This was where the big branch was. The major branch was right here in the middle," said Ross.

Another homeowner was working to remove a tree that fell on his mobile home near Baseline and Kyrene. No one was injured.

A Tempe spokesperson says city crews spent last night and today cleaning up 25 to 35 downed trees and branches. No word on how much the cleanup will cost.

Not too far from there, the storm did some more damage in a very short period of time.

Jim Lujan watched the wall of dust and rain spread across the valley, heading towards his mobile home. It's a night he will never forget.

"It made a noise like woo like a big locomotive coming around the curve and it shook our trailer," said Lujan.

It shook the entire trailer park on Kyrene and Baseline in Tempe. The streets in the neighborhood were covered with uprooted trees and metal pieces of roofs and patio awnings.

Vincent Demell was lucky. His mobile home was spared, but his neighbor is looking for a new place to live after this eucalyptus fell on his house.

He was in the house when it happened, and wasn't hurt.

Many are thankful the storm lasted only 45 minutes -- any longer and more neighbors could be homeless.

The man who's mobile home was crushed by a tree has lived there for two years and has no insurance. Neighbors are helping him.

Parts of the west valley are also cleaning up after last night's storm -- including some major damage at the Wigwam Resort. There, 80 trees toppled. Two of the three golf courses at Wigwam are closed while crews clean up.

They had never seen damage like this.

"It is a bummer, there is no doubt about it. It is hard to get your get your head around a little bit," said Leo Simonetta, Wigwam golf courses. "It is far beyond what we can handle. It is where we have to call a couple companies to help us out who are experienced in removing big trees such as this."

Wind gusts in that area were as high as 60 miles per hour.

"We were afraid to go out when it was at its height. We just stayed in the house and waited until things calmed down, then we went out to survey the damage and we didn't like what we saw," said resident Emil Plet.

At the height of the storm, 20,000 customers of both APS and SRP were without power.

Video: FOX 10's Jill Monier, Diane Ryan, and Andrew Hasbun have team coverage.

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Follow this story: Dust, rain pack a big punch throughout the valley

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