Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flooding and debris flows from Monument fire area


On Wednesday afternoon, "A massive wall of fast-moving, grey and brown water funneled by Miller Canyon during an afternoon thunderstorm burst the banks of Miller Creek and spilled across Miller Canyon Road, threatening homes, property and people," according to a story in the Sierra Vista Herald. Miller Canyon was identified as one of the areas most at risk to floods and debris flows following the recent Monument wildfire in the Huachuca Mountains. [note, I initially mistakenly said the Chiricahua's]

Just minutes ago, the Inciweb.org web site was updated with this report on flood debris blocking forest roads [right, Carr Canyon Bridge. Photo credit Inciweb]:

STORM PATROL RESPONDS TO CLOGGED FOREST ROADS Sierra Vista, AZ (July 21, 2011) – One of the treatments approved for the West Coronado Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team is storm patrol. This treatment consists of equipment operators entering the burn area during a storm (if safe) or immediately after a storm event to clean out culverts, reestablish low water crossings and maintain other treatments that have been implemented to protect road infrastructure and reduce the potential for watershed degradation. Justin Michael is a Forest Service motor grader who has been called upon to clear roadways impacted by the Monument Fire twice. “I cleared low water crossings on Miller Canyon Road after the recent flood so people could make it out of their homes,” said Michael. “There was so much sediment mixed with boulders and logs all piled up that it looked like a beaver lodge had been built right there on the road.” Michael also cleared Forest Service Road 61, or the Montezuma Pass Road, just the week before when a flow originating in Copper Canyon made the road impassable. The road is heavily used by the Border Patrol. The patrols are used to identify road problems such as plugged culverts and washed-out roads after flooding and to clear and repair any road receiving severe surface erosion. In other Monument BAER news, team engineers continue to identify road locations at risk for storm damage. For example, low water crossings may need to be constructed in places where existing culverts are likely to fail when debris accumulates and starts to dam due to flooding. The public is invited to visit the InciWeb site at www.inciweb.org, for the latest information including maps, news releases, and photos of the fires assessed by the West Coronado BAER team.

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