WeatherMonsoon 2022


Learn the frequent flooders and finding alternate routes

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jun 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-07 19:30:33-04

If you're an old hand with the monsoon, you know the frequent flooders---the spots especially likely to block your way or risk your life if you try to drive through them. But maybe you're new to the area or in an unfamiliar part of town when the storms roll in, so it's good to recognize the trouble spots.

Harrison, south of Golf Links, floods so often that the City of Tucson installed permanent warning lights to flick on as soon as there's danger.
Look to the side and you'll see Pantano Wash runs right across the road.
It may not be raining on you but a wash can channel water into your path from a storm miles away.
Shawn Moore coordinates Operation Splash, Tucson DOT's program to barricade flooded spots and keep you clear of stormwater.

He says, “If there's water on the road you cannot see the road. Therefore you cannot determine the condition of the road.  You don't know if a section of the road was washed out thirty minutes prior to your arriving there.  It only takes about six inches of water to cause a small car to lose traction and only three to four inches of hard-flowing water can cause them to lose traction."

A map on the Operation Splash website lists 20 constant offenders, but it pays to be cautious everywhere when it rains.

Pima County flood control has flow sensors set along the washes so when water hits those sensors they can let transportation officials know that water is heading for the roads and warnings are necessary.
Tucson's Stone Avenue Underpass has an eight-foot depth gauge, and even that can be covered up.
Near 24th and Sarnoff, Rolling Hills Wash flows across the road. 
For Pima County, Tanque Verde Loop is a regular flooder because Tanque Verde Creek carries rain from Mount Lemmon across the road.
Overton Wash floods so often Pima County installed a gate to close off the road until it clears.
Pima Transportation Director Ana Olivares says in any high water even a large four-wheel drive can get stuck.

“There's a lot of debris that comes through when the wash comes in. There's a lot of sand.  There could be rocks, who knows what kind of debris is in the wash? So it's buried there.  You think, "oh it's a little bit of water, you'll drive over it, and you might get stuck--a big boulder, a big pipe, some mechanical thing and then you're stuck."         

The safest route is to know alternate routes so you can find a dryer way to get where you need to go.


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