Southwest Downpours Turn Deadly

By , Senior Meteorologist
July 15, 2012; 7:54 AM ET
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The last time Yuma, Ariz., received as much rain as what fell on Friday, flood waters covered a road in Salome, Ariz., the following day (January 22, 2010). (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

One person is dead after heavy thunderstorms triggered flash flooding across the Southwest on Friday. A similar danger exists today.

Roads and washes flooded and mudslides ensued across parts of southeastern California and western Arizona on Friday from the drenching thunderstorms.

A person drowned after a car got swept into a flooded wash (normally a stream bed) five miles north of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., late Friday.

Around the same time, runoff from a downpour led to significant flooding on California's Highway 62 from Yucca Valley to east of Twentynine Palms. Water and boulders covered the road, parts of which caved in. Numerous vehicles got stuck in the debris.

The combination of a slow-moving weather disturbance and monsoonal moisture is to blame for Friday's heavy thunderstorms, while the region's typical dry climate contributed to the flash flooding's rapid onset.

Yuma, Ariz., picked up 1.66 inches of rain on Friday--equivalent to half of what the city normally receives during an entire year. It was also Yuma's wettest day since January 21, 2010.

Simply put, the soil across southeastern California and western Arizona cannot handle that amount of rain.

The same ingredients that led to Friday's flash flooding are once again in place through this evening across the Southwest with southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and western Arizona at greatest risk.

Las Vegas lies within the threat zone, as well as Kingman, Ariz., and St. George, Utah.

Thunderstorms will rumble elsewhere throughout the Intermountain West today with the flood threat more localized. Severe weather is also a concern this afternoon across northeastern Oregon and neighboring Idaho.

The weekend is then set to end Sunday just as it started with more thunderstorms throughout the Intermountain West. The danger of flash flooding will be greatest across Arizona.


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