Destructive Flash Flooding
A section of a road washed out on Sep. 12, 2013 claimed a pickup truck in La Union, N.M. (AP Photo)
Unfortunately, the best way to quench a long-term, exceptional drought, namely, an extended period of wetter-than-average conditions lacking a truly excessive rainfall event, is not typically what happens in New Mexico.
In the summer, moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific gets transported into New Mexico and the desert Southwest, thanks to the North American monsoon.
On July 8, a normally dry arroyo turned into a torrent in Santa Fe, N.M. claiming the life of a homeless person swept downstream. Then on July 26, torrential rain triggered flooding of homes in Bernalillo, N.M., just north of Albuquerque.
The more serious flooding, however, swamped the Land of Enchantment at the same time the tropical plume was wringing out record rain, triggering massive flooding in parts of northern Colorado in mid-September.
An earthen dam near Las Vegas, N.M. ruptured, triggering flooding in the city. Another earthen dam near the town of La Union was overwhelmed, flooding homes, washing out bridges, and knocking out power, according to the Associated Press. Sixteen residents of Mogollon, N.M. were isolated after flooding swamped the only highway into the town, requiring an emergency airlift of food, water, and other supplies.
Runoff flooding from the Las Conchas burn scar prompted evacuations in the city of Los Alamos and Santa Clara Pueblo.
Flood damage in the city of Carlsbad, N.M. was estimated near $1 million.
In the period from June 15 to Sept. 24, Albuquerque had already chalked up its sixth wettest monsoon season on record (7.16 inches). Not a bad comeback from the drought, eh?
The torrential rain near Elephant Butte Reservoir (mentioned on the previous page) not only triggered evacuations, but also raised the level of the lake five feet. Typically, spring snowmelt is needed to replenish reservoirs.
Speaking of snow, or, eh, frozen precipitation ... how about snowplows around the Fourth of July?
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