Rain hits West, Southwest; Phoenix sees wettest Christmas Eve since 1944

By Alyssa Smithmyer,
In Arizona, Flagstaff and Phoenix recorded rain totals of at least an inch from Thursday to Friday. For Phoenix, in particular, it broke a long-standing record for wettest Christmas Eve since 1944.&nbsp;File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/918aae68d1477720ea05905aa013970e/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
In Arizona, Flagstaff and Phoenix recorded rain totals of at least an inch from Thursday to Friday. For Phoenix, in particular, it broke a long-standing record for wettest Christmas Eve since 1944. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 25 -- People in the Southwest will soon have some relief from the relentless rainfall that brought a city their wettest Christmas Eve since 1944.

Just prior to Christmas Day, multiple rounds of wet weather had soaked locations spanning from the California coast to Arizona. Holiday travelers had to contest with hazards such as significant flooding, washed out roadways and debris flows, while also facing transportation threats across the higher elevations due to the heavy snow accumulation.

On Tuesday, numerous swaths of rainfall began shifting into the northern coast of California, with mountain snow spreading across the higher elevations. From Wednesday to Thursday, rainfall became more widespread across the region and continued to expand southeastward.


Locations across California's coastal range provided impressive 72-hour rainfall totals ending Thursday night, with the highest report coming from Mining Ridge, Calif., at 9.53 inches. Multiple other California locations reported 72-hour rainfall totals of around 8 inches, such as Three Peaks and Chalk Peak.


Seventy-two-hour rainfall totals across Southern California ranged from 1-4 inches through Christmas Eve, with local amounts exceeding 5 inches. Across central Arizona, rainfall totals for the same time period ranged from 1-2 inches generally.

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Two deaths were reported on Thursday as a result of the flooding after an underpass flooded in Millbrae, California.

Late Thursday, there were multiple reports from Caltrans of washed-out roadways and missing guard rails north of San Bernardino due to the heavy rainfall. Additionally, several vehicles were left stranded in the snow on SR-38 around an elevation of 8,000 feet near Big Bear. Motorists were warned that mountain routes should be avoided on Christmas Eve.

During the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, heavy rain persisted across Central and Southern California while also plowing into portions of Nevada and Arizona.


In Arizona, both Flagstaff and Phoenix recorded rainfall totals of at least an inch within the 24-hour period. For Phoenix, in particular, this broke a long-standing record for wettest Christmas Eve since 1944, surpassing the previous mark by 0.07 of an inch.

Additionally, this year's Christmas Eve rainfall report marked only the 11th time that the city has reached 1 inch or greater rainfall in December.

On Friday, the National Weather Service Office in Phoenix issued a flood advisory for the city and surrounding regions. Drivers were warned of low visibilities due to rainy conditions and minor flooding in low-lying areas.

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The last time Phoenix experienced so much rain was Feb. 22, 2020, when 1.04 inches were reported.

Phoenix wasn't the only city to set a rainfall record prior to Christmas Day. On Thursday, Los Angeles International Airport recorded a new daily record rainfall with a report of 1.48 inches. Early Friday, yet another period of moderate to heavy rain swept across the Los Angeles region.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a 9-vehicle crash on Interstate 5 on Friday. Two tractor-trailers were involved in the crash, which killed one person. It wasn't immediately known if weather or speed played a factor in the accident.


Farther south, Palm Springs, Calif., also broke a record for wettest Christmas Eve with a report of 0.56 of an inch, topping the previous mark set on Christmas Eve 1959.

So far this season, portions of Northern California have overperformed in terms of overall precipitation, which includes rain and snow. Since Oct. 1, Northern California has totaled 24.5 inches, surpassing the total for the previous 12 months combined.

Nearly three months into this year's season, both Central and Southern California are following the same track. These regions fall just a few inches short of the overall precipitation accumulated the entire previous season.

AccuWeather meteorologists say that California residents are expected to catch a break from the active weather by the start of January and the pattern will begin to settle down.

"While there may be a few storms to impact the West during this time period, they are not likely to contain as much moisture," stated AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

Holiday scenes around the world

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and first lady Jill Biden pet their dog, Commander, while virtually meeting with United States military service members on Christmas Day, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, DC, on December 25, 2021. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

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