Rain leads to flooding 3.18.09

Written by David Green.

What happens when a month’s worth of rain falls in a little over four days? It gets deep, obviously.

Just ask Maschel Sanchez who lives near Bean Creek on property north of Morenci that borders Mulberry Road.

The water kept rising last week and eventually her home was surrounded. She tried to drive out but the water was deep enough that her car stalled out in the driveway.

Wednesday afternoon last week she was still waiting for a relative to show up after work with a boat to take her to dry land—and escape the two inches of water in her bedroom.

Sanchez has never seen the river overflow its banks to that extent. Despite living less than 50 yards from Bean Creek, she said her insurance agent told her that the area is not an established flood plain.

You might have trouble convincing Sanchez of that.

Actually, said Morenci’s National Weather Service climate observer George Isobar, it was more than a month’s worth of rain.

“It could never rain a drop for the rest of the month and this March would still be the third wettest over the past 35 years,” he said.

So far he’s recorded 4.76 inches of rain.

“We had 5.11 in 1977 and 5.10 in 1985. Then comes this year, and it can’t possibly stop there. It won’t take much for a modern-day record setter.”

Isobar said there have been occasions where four, five or more inches have fallen all in one storm, but this one was spread out.

“We’ve had five-inch deluges where it falls, it floods and then it’s gone,” he said. “That wasn’t the case this time.

“First we had 1.07 inches a week ago Saturday, then another 1.02 inches on Sunday. It stayed really wet and then we had the crescendo—2.67 inches Tuesday and early Wednesday.”

Water began running over several roads in the area, resulting in closures in some areas. Bean Creek flowed into Wakefield Park and reached the east side of the circular drive. Many farm fields are still dotted with small ponds.

“Before you complain too much about how wet it is, don’t forget that it’s still March,” Isobar said. “We’re just over half way through the month and we haven’t yet had one flake of snow.”

That’s unusual for March, he said, since the average is a little over seven inches.

“Maybe we’re clear of it this year,” Isobar said. “Maybe this will be our rare snowless March. Just sayin’.”

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