(Posted June 22, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.) In addition to fire danger warnings, Tonto National Forest officials now have a new warning to share with the public: Monsoon flash floods and flooding.
Due to monsoon flooding, in the next few weeks it is possible that several areas on the Tonto National Forest will be intermittently closed due to flood damage. The Cave Creek and Mesa ranger districts usually suffer the worst effects of summer floods.
Flooding is the nation's most common natural disaster. Flooding can happen anywhere in the country; however, all floods are not alike. Some can develop slowly during an extended period of rain. Others, such as flash floods, can occur quickly, even without any visible signs of rain. It's important to be prepared for flooding, but particularly if you are in a low-lying area, near water, or downstream from a burn area. Even a very small stream or arroyo (dry creek bed) can overflow and create flooding.
When heavy thunderstorms are expected: Know Before You Go
Know the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
Know the weather patterns of the area. Thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan your activities accordingly.
Be informed. Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard:
Flood Watch: Flooding is possible.
Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground.
Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
If camping, place the campsite on higher ground and avoid camping in drainage areas such as rivers, creeks, or arroyos and especially in narrow canyons. Flash floods can quickly develop during heavy thunderstorms. During these downpours, extreme caution should be exercised when crossing any river, creek, or arroyo.
Forest visitors are advised to check the forest webpage or call ahead to the districts before planning recreation events on the forest. Sometimes, however, due to the flooding, district telephone lines sometimes go down.
As in any flooded roadway event, the Maricopa County Department of Transportation urges motorists, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”
For further information about forest conditions, see the Tonto National Forest website or call (602) 225-5200.
(Source: Tonto National Forest)