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Odile’s Heavy Rains Causing Headaches in Arizona

Southwest braces for record rain 3:20

Heavy rain expected to trigger major floods tumbled into the desert Southwest on Wednesday as part of a three-day drenching from Tropical Storm Odile. Parts of central Graham County, Arizona, were hit hard, with a National Weather Service monitor recording 3.11 inches of rain in 24 hours, most of it Wednesday morning and afternoon, presaging heavier storms that could drop 1 to 2 inches per hour near the Mexico border. Tucson — which is eventually expected to get torrents between 3 and 5 inches an hour before the storm system leaves the region sometime late Friday — made about 10,000 sandbags available for distribution Wednesday, city officials said, and many school districts in the area canceled afternoon and evening activities.

The remnants of Odile — which had been a Category 3 hurricane as it thrashed Mexico's Baja California coast Sunday night — left deep standing water in several major Arizona roadways, including Interstates 10 and 71, the state Highway Patrol said. Much of the state was under flash flood watches, and forecasters said rain falling on ground already drenched from storms last week could cause mudslides in mountainous areas. Forecasters said flooding could also stretch from southern Nevada to southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico.

A weakening Tropical Depression Odile was churning toward southern Arizona with sustained winds of 35 mph Wednesday.

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— Erik Ortiz and M. Alex Johnson