Monthly Archives: September 2014

Arizona and New Mexico On Alert For Potential Flash Flooding

Hurricane Odile Slammed into Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Sunday night rather fiercely. The winds snapped pristine majestic trees as if they were mere twigs, and heavy rains utterly washed out roads, leaving 30,000 tourists and 4000 local residents stranded and trapped in Cabo San Lucas. While the stormed waned down to a category 1 hurricane, it brought heavy rains which caused large scale flooding through the region.

The winds devastated the area causing wide spread property damage, luckily no one was seriously injured. One resorts swimming pool was swept into the ocean the storm was so strong. The storm broke nearly every window in the resort town, including car and truck windows. The winds even toppled cars. One local resident stated “It looks like a middle east war zone here”.

Water entered into the first floor of buildings, and residents and tourists alike scrambled to protect their personal possessions from flood damage. As the storm moved on, the tail end of the storm caused more damage than the beginning of the storm did. More Debris, and high winds came following the storms exit from the area before calm finally settled in the affected areas. Mexico is post phoning their Independence day celebrations in Baja, which was Tuesday due to the havoc of the storm. The Mexican army is air lifting out some 30,000 stranded tourists to cities like Mazatlan, Guadalajara and Mexico City and Tijuana, which is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula. From Tijuana the tourists will catch flights home. While the Los Cabos international airport terminal is littered with debris and has been damaged, the Mexican army made the runway useable to begin the airlifting process.

By Monday evening the storm had traveled to about 30 miles from Loreto, Mexico with sustained winds clocking in at 75 MPH as it headed further northwest. The hurricane was expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm by early Tuesday, and it has indeed been downgraded, however it still poses much danger due to the torrential rains it will be bringing to the American Southwest, including Arizona and New Mexico, and parts of Texas, in fact the rains from this storm will reach as far as Austin Texas come Wednesday or Thursday.

Mexican authorities are warning of yet even more landslides and flooding in the coming days, as even though the bulk of the storm has moved on they are being hit with the tail end of the storm. Shelters for up to 30,000 people have been prepared for various areas in Mexico effected by the storm. The number of shelters prepared is 164 shelters, although it is unclear why the shelters were not made ready before the storm made landfall, given the advance warning. Several areas of Baja are without power, and it could take days for the power to be restored, entire electric poles were snapped in half. Water and phone service is also out for many locals, the ones whose homes remain intact that is. San Jose Del Cabo looks utterly devastated by the storm, with debris everywhere and wide spread structural damage. Hundreds of homes were totally destroyed, leaving many locals homeless in the wake of the storm. Wide spread looting occurred following the storm, with local stores stripped of food, alcohol, batteries, water and other sundry items. The looting continued until the Mexican army arrived and put an end to the looting.

While Hurricane Odile has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it continues to soak parts of the Baja California Peninsula. Flash flooding and mudslides in the area can still occur officials caution. Despite the massive property damage, no loss of life is reported, and only 135 people were treated for minor injuries. Local residents meanwhile have begun the long process of cleaning up and restoring properties and roadways, a process that could take weeks if not months. Tropical storm Odile continues its trek into the American Southwest as of Wednesday.

Strong Storms Leave A Path Of Flash Flooding In Arizona

In Arizona and even in Nevada, record rain fall was recorded and flash floods swamped freeways and residential areas on Monday. It has been recorded that at least two people have died due to being trapped in the floodwaters. In Moapa, Nevada, flash flooding was reported about 45 miles northeast of Las Vegas on Monday afternoon. There had been a flash flood emergency that was declared in the area by the National Weather Service.

The Las Vegas branch of the National Weather Service stated that at one point, a dam in the community was just inches away from overtopping, but luckily the waters receded later on in the evening. On Monday night, the Nevada Highway Patrol said that there were many vehicles that were spotted floating down Interstate 15 in the Moapa area. On many social media sites, there have been pictures posted of I-15 near Moapa that is completely destroyed.
A rain gauge that is located in the Moapa area reported 4.67 inches of rain on Monday, which is more than two thirds of the average for that area. In the Las Vegas area, heavy downpours dumped one to two inches of rain in many neighborhoods that lead to extensive flash flooding. On Monday afternoon, at least two parking garages were flooded on the Vegas Strip, including the Quad Resort and Casino.

On Monday afternoon, all 29 miles of the Interstate 15 were closed due to flooding. A local fire department reported that it almost seemed like “waterfalls” flowing onto the freeway. They began diverting traffic from entering that stretch of the freeway.

In Phoenix, the Mayor Greg Stanton and the Governor Jan Brewer urged all non-government employees to stay home on Monday as they declared a state of emergency. In areas around Phoenix, including Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler their were widespread reports of homes and business underwater from the flash flooding.

Cars and even SUVs sat in the water that was up to their hoods on the freeway, while other motorists parked on the borders to avoid the rising waters. Interstate 10 between 51st and 35th avenues in Phoenix was one of the hardest hit stretches, but luckily it was cleaned up and re-opened at about 2 P.M yesterday. There were many school closures in the area due to the adverse weather. APS reported that about 10,000 customers were without power in the metro area, and it was difficult to restore the power due to the flooded roadways.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recorded an all-time wettest calendar day record, picking up 3.29 inches of rain since Midnight as of 4 p.m MST, breaking the previous record that was set 75 years ago. This is more than the average for July, August, and September combined.

The precipitation frequency estimate, which is set up by the NOAA, this heavy a precipitation event in a six hour time period has only a 0.002 percent chance of happening in any given year.

This event was so catastrophic because the desert terrain present in the area is already incapable of holding large amounts of water, and when heavy rainfall hits these urban areas, it is only imaginable that a disaster can occur. This threat continued throughout Monday, and the National Weather Service issued flash flood watches for parts of the five states listed: California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah.
On Sunday, Southern California emergency crews responded to many reports of stranded vehicles on parts of I-215 and Highway 74. Torrential downpours in the area caused downed trees and snapped power lines in the Riverside area. Emergency crews had to rescue several people trapped in their vehicles, but no injuries were reported.
California has been in a drought since April, and at least 94 percent of the state has been in drought since May 2013. Even though there were many heavy thunderstorms that pounded the region as of late, Riverside has still had less than 2.5 inches of rain since Jan 1st. That’s more than 7 inches below the average rainfall for the year to date.