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In a Flash: Flood

Many of you heard about the monsoonal storms that seemed to favor Wickenburg last Wednesday. An acquaintance visiting France even emailed asking about it.

So my great hilltop was quite the place to experience all the weather related drama. Apparently, two Phoenix news stations thought so too, because as the rain subsided, their helicopters showed up, hovering directly overhead, presumably to capture “my” wash, turned river.

The storms developed early in the day, and by 10am, there was a lone cluster of cells, just around Wickenburg. Interestingly, build-ups at this time of year here, almost always start moving one way or another once developed. This batch kept regenerating, and stayed put.

The storms and rain were never really that heavy, but enough so that a Flash Flood warning was issued. With the geocentric orbit-like storm development, an eastern window of sunlight remained as unchanged throughout, as the remaining quadrants did obscured in rain.

Under such conditions, I would have expected a lot more cloud to ground lightning. Instead, it was all upper level cloud to cloud strikes, creating an eerily unabated and subdued rumbling thunder. There was however, one strike that did make it to the ground, nearby, startling with its cannon-like drone breaker.

The following photo shows one of the first developing cells. You can see the edge of the eastern sunlight mentioned. Note also, the dry wash which connects the lowest point between my hill and the one just north. The road between the hills is a loop which hence crosses the wash twice.

Rain Clouds Over Wickenburg

As the rain continued, every couple or few minutes I looked out the window hoping to see the start of the expected “flash flood”. I vacuumed while waiting, and one time when the machine was turned off, its winding-down sound was replaced by one of an omnipresent throated whooshing. Sure enough, that dry wash had turned to river, but I missed its start. Very exciting, and chilling.

The next two photos show the western wash, then eastern one, obviously after the water flow began.

Cemetery Wash Flood

Cemetery Wash Flood

Remaining at the east wash, photo 4, taken standing on the road just above the water line, really shows a river-like flow.

Cemetery Wash Flood

Next is the neighbors who came to watch, ooh and ahh.

Cemetery Wash Flood

Then you can see where the wash drop-off just beyond the road, creates a mini falls.

Cemetery Wash Flood

In the last photo, a couple hours after the rain stopped, the road was passable. Note the jagged lines of debris, both sides, marking the highest point the water reached. There remained a lot of mud on the road, which when dried out, the city plows away.

Cemetery Wash Flood



Webmaster Note: If you’re interested in another view of the same flood, read “When They Say Flash Flood Warning…” on Maria’s WebLog.

Last 5 posts by Tom Rubin

1 comment to In a Flash: Flood

  • Charles Thornsbury

    Can you tell me where this road is in Wickenburg? I have racked my brain for memory of it but cannot place it though I am sure a lot of things have changed since I last was there.
    Thank you for the great photos!