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Storm Mucks Up Phoenix Air Traffic

July 15, 2002

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PHOENIX (AP) _ Severe thunderstorms cut power to much of Sky Harbor International Airport and delayed or diverted flights, forcing many travelers to spend the night at the sprawling complex.

Flights resumed Monday morning but delays were expected throughout the day, airport spokeswoman Suzanne Luber said.

``This is going to have a domino effect for quite a while,″ she said.

The airport was shut down for about four hours Sunday night as two powerful monsoon storms tore through the area, damaging parked airplanes and spreading debris on taxiways and streets.

Incoming flights were diverted to Tucson and Las Vegas, Nev.

About 250 delayed travelers slept at the airport, while others moved to motels in the area.

Luber said at least two parked planes were damaged when wind estimated by the National Weather Service at up to 70 mph pushed a Boeing 757 and an Airbus away from passenger gates and into surrounding equipment.

Flying debris also damaged five commercial aircraft, several private planes and cars parked in the airport’s economy lots, Luber said.

No one was aboard the planes and there were no injuries.

Luber said two of the airport’s three terminals lost electricity but power was quickly restored by backup generators.

The storm dropped an estimated 2 inches of rain on parts of the Phoenix area in about 90 minutes, according to the weather service.

In addition to the airport damage, at least 47,000 homes and businesses lost power throughout the Phoenix area, said officials with Arizona Public Service and the Salt River Project. Several thousand people were still without power Monday morning.

In Texas, flooding at the Federal Aviation Administration’s central control center in Houston forced evacuations late Saturday and delayed air traffic at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Hundreds of passengers were delayed.

Update hourly