Tropical downpours to drench southwestern US through Thursday
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
September 20, 2018, 5:07:05 AM EDT
A former tropical depression will bring needed rainfall, but also a flood risk to the southwestern United States and southern High Plains into Friday.
Showers and thunderstorms centered on the Gulf of California in the eastern Pacific Ocean organized into Tropical Depression 19-E on Wednesday morning. Despite weakening, the former depression will be the catalyst for the downpours that spread into the Southwest prior to the end of the week.
“This feature will enhance rains over the Southwest through Thursday,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido.
The most concentrated rain will focus just east of Phoenix and take aim at Tucson, Arizona; Las Cruces, Roswell and Albuquerque, New Mexico; and El Paso, Texas.
“Localized flooding can occur in Arizona and New Mexico,” Vido said.
Spotty storms are also forecast to spread into the San Juan Mountains and Colorado Rockies.
Hikers should be wary of the increased threat of lightning and stay away from dry stream beds, known as arroyos, which can suddenly fill with rushing water.
Secondary roadways and portions of interstates 10, 17, 25 and 40 can become slick at the onset of rain. Reduced visibility will further necessitate motorists to slow down on the roadways.
If a flooded roadway is encountered, turn around and find a safer, alternate route to avoid putting yourself, other passengers and your would-be rescuers in a life-threatening situation.
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Despite the risk of flooding, there will be good news as the rain will be falling over areas that desperately need it even as the corridor of downpours shifts farther to the east later Thursday over part of the southern High Plains.
Arizona and New Mexico have been suffering in moderate to exceptional drought conditions since the spring, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The unseasonable heat of late will also be suppressed in the region.
“Expect daytime high temperatures to be much lower than normal in the Southwest due to the cloud cover and precipitation,” Vido said.
The temperature in Albuquerque may not hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday after Tuesday’s record high of 92 F.
Vido expects the heavy rain and subsequent cooldown to shift into the south-central High Plains on Friday and Saturday.
Part of this area is also dealing with a drought and could use a thorough soaking.
However, flooding problems may be even more pronounced over Texas and Oklahoma, where the tropical moisture may link up with another system and possibly stall.
Several cities in Texas, including Dallas, San Antonio and Midland, have already eclipsed their average precipitation totals for September from prior systems.
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