A Pleasant Day on the Lake Turns Frightening


Jenny Weiss of Anthem made this video on Lake Pleasant Saturday “before it got really bad,” said her friend, Heidi Lasarzig Reilly. “When it was bad there was no way we could film.”

Lake Pleasant was hit by storms Friday and Saturday afternoons that tore docks free, damaged boats and marinas, cut power, forced multiple water rescues and terrified some boaters. “It was terrifying on the lake when that hit,” said Betsy Lee, who was out on the water in a rented pontoon boat Saturday afternoon with fellow Anthem residents Heidi Lasarzig Reilly, Jenny Weiss and their children. “Wasn’t sure we’d make it.”

The group was heading back to the dock as the storm hit.

“It started to sprinkle and then it hit,” Lee told North Phoenix News. “Hail and pounding rain. Winds were horrible. Boats everywhere. Then we couldn’t see anything. The kids were hunkered down under the tube and towels. We just tried to reassure each other.”

Wind gusts reached 47 mph at around 4:30 p.m., according to the county’s Flood Warning Branch.

What to Do?

“I’ve been boating for years and never had a storm come on so quickly,” said Reilly, who was driving. “I had no idea what to do other than putting the bow of the boat towards the wind, waves and rain while gassing it and trying to stay away from the shore or other boats. Betsy frantically got life jackets to everyone.”

At one point the boat got turned sideways, Reilly said. “I thought we were going to capsize.”

Once the storm died down, they made it back to the dock.

“Heidi was our hero,” Lee said. “She was the driver that got us out of it safe.”

Others were not so lucky. News reports elsewhere told of water rescues by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

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Damage Done

lake pleasant storm dock
A dock floated free and a boat was left at the shoreline of Lake Pleasant after Saturday’s storm. Photo: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation

“The 10 Lane West Dock is closed for repairs due to damage from the storm on July 15,” Maricopa County Parks & Recreation said in a statement. “The 10 Lane East Dock is still operational.” Power was out at several locations around the lake Saturday afternoon, the park service said.

Scorpion Bay marina suffered damage from Friday’s storm and was closed for repairs Saturday. Electricity and phone service was out, the marina said in an email to customers at around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Customers were asked to come check dock lines on their boats “as there are quite a few broken ropes.”

The marina’s website had this statement Sunday morning: “Due to recent storm damage, the marina and restaurant are closed. We will re-open Tuesday, July 18th.”

“Due to the latest monsoon storm today, additional power lines have been impacted in the general area of the lake and power is not estimated to be restored until sometime tomorrow (July 16),” the park service said in a Facebook post Saturday night. “The utility provider is currently working to resolve the issue. Access to Lake Pleasant will still be available, but recreation opportunities such as developed camping, may be impacted during the power outage.”

More Storms Possible

More storms could be on the way today (Sunday) and into the week. There’s a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the region tonight, according to the National Weather Service, and a flash flood watch is in effect from 2 p.m. today until 10 p.m.

Rain could exceed an inch in areas where storms strike, the county’s Flood Warning Branch predicts.

The chance of thunderstorms is 30 percent Monday afternoon, increasing to 40 percent Monday night and through Tuesday afternoon.

lake pleasant storm boats
One boat that didn’t make to the ramp during the storm at Lake Pleasant Saturday. Photo: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation

This article, originally posted at 8:21 a.m. Sunday, was updated at 12:30 p.m. to include the account of boaters who were on the lake, as well as an updated weather forecast.

Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels.
Robert Roy Britt on Email

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels.

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