The Flagstaff and Globe areas of Arizona were hit with two days of flash flooding earlier this week. Monsoon rains hit the burn scar left from the 2019 Museum Fire and turned roads into muddy rapids according to a report from 12 News.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, flash floods flowed through Flagstaff and Globe. Roads were quickly washed away in a muddy torrent. Videos circulated online of cars being carried away. It’s a nightmare that residents have known could happen for two years.
A Toyota Prius can be seen being carried away down a street in one video. In another, Golder Ranch Fire District rescue teams can be seen getting a family to safety after their Jeep Wrangler was swept away.
Residents can be seen using sandbags to help direct the floods down the roads and away from homes.
Over two inches of rain fell onto a portion of the burn scar, triggering flash flood alerts and quickly covering roadways. AZ Family reports that numerous roads in the area were closed as they were overcome by as much as a foot of rushing debris flows. Only making matters worse is the area’s forecast, which calls for even more rain on the way.
On July 21, 2019, the Museum Fire started in the Dry Lake Hills about a mile north of Flagstaff. It burned for about three weeks over 1,961 acres before fire crews were able to contain it. The fire left behind a burn scar over rugged terrain near Flagstaff and surrounding areas. As the National Weather Service reports, residents immediately prepared for the threat of flash flooding, filling over 26,000 sandbags.
Burn scars increase the risk of flash floods. Normally, soil absorbs rainfall. However, areas burned by wildfires may actually repel water and send it downhill, taking any debris in the way with it. The Flagstaff area avoided the threat of flash floods for two years as each monsoon season brought less water than expected.
While videos from the scene show some chaos, 12 News reports that since the rain only fell on part of the burn scar, the flooding isn’t bad as it could be. As the community cleans up its roads and flood damage it also prepares for more flooding given even more rain in the forecast.