Monsoons take some getting used to. If you are not ready for them, they can really throw you for a loop. I remember my first run in with a southern Arizona monsoon. Imagine if you will, spending a handful of years in Yuma seeing virtually no rain to embark on the four hour drive to Sierra Vista for an interview. Thundering across the desert interstate in my corvette that had never seen rain heading towards Tucson and… clouds. Dark, thick, heavy, threatening clouds! ??? The confusion was obvious, but the clouds yielded to the Cochise County line as I blazed my way out of Tucson. Clouds that returned when I turned south on Highway 90. Clouds that released torrents of rain without warning. Clouds that made me realize I had never bothered to learn where the windshield wiper switch was located on my old, eclectic corvette. Blinded and confused, fumbling and frustrated I pulled off the road and just as fast as the rain started, it stopped. “What the hell was that all about?!” The switch was very conveniently and conspicuously (yeah right) located on the door. Okay, not Chevrolet’s most thought through car, but there it was and just as I engaged it to be safe, the rains were back… and the wipers completely disintegrated in to muddy, rubber chucks on the windshield. Nice. Everybody remembers their first monsoon. They are unforgiving when you are unprepared.
Once you are used to them, you can prepare for them. The rains are intense and heavy, sudden and furious. The hailstorms come both without warning and without lightening. The hailstorm is the parent’s chance to allow their children to play in the rain as we once did and then laugh as they figure out they are being pelted by more than water alone. “It is raining ice cubes!” Aalyhia declared once she figured out that something was just not quite right. Living here means dealing with the eventuality of monsoons; make the best of them.
My last blog
was all about preparing for the monsoons that were sure to come this year. The fear was the floods they may bring after the wildfires. That those affected by the fire would be equally affected by Mother Nature’s bipolar tendencies. Well, the monsoons are back. With the rains came the flash floods and those affected by the fire are now most affected by rain. A brutal irony of having wildfires in canyons that double as debris flow areas. The rains came, the scorched and scarred earth could not retain the water, and flash floods brought with them soil, ash, boulders and even a propane tank… and not the BBQ grill kind!
Evacuated for the fire and again evacuated for flash floods. Poor Miller Canyon residents, it is going to be a very long summer!
What’s worse? Miller Canyon received 1.6 inches of rain in an hour. Sounds excessive you say? Monsoon rains can easily triple this volume in a single down pour that lasts hours on end. Four to six inches can be recorded in a single storm that can pack hurricane-like winds.
Those lucky enough to escape the fire may not be lucky enough to escape the debris-filled flash floods.
Fortunately, the Arizona department of Public Safety is more in tune to the community’s threats than is FEMA who helped create this now ongoing catastrophe. This was preventable.
Averted it could have been, through proper prudence in planning and the proper dedication of funds over governmental supporting of poorly developed plans. Plans that were created solely for the purpose of saving a few dollars by allowing the threat of fire to reach disastrous levels through deliberately ignoring the need for proper land clearing. Miller and Carr Canyon residents can attest to how wrong this all is.
And to think, monsoons have just started. It will get far, far worse.
While I may approach this in my light way, and as much as we like to believe we can control the climate and the will of nature, we cannot. These thoughts are driven by the insecurity of our own mortality, our anthropomorphic sense of ego
and now even political agendas. The reality is nature is going to run its course as the Earth evolves before, with, and after humankind and humanity as we know it. We cannot prevent, but we can prepare.
There are advantages to purchasing flood insurance. Time however, is of the essence as it takes 30 days to take effect. Southern Arizona is fortunate in FEMA’s planning incompetence in that flood incident is rated relatively low and flood / flow charts are slow in updating for insurance underwriting purposes. This too will change because the Air Force is now part of the flood crisis intervention policy recently implemented by the Arizona Department of Public Safety; the more federal resources that are utilized for flood response, the faster flood charts in a given area are updated which increases premiums. Take advantage while you can. Resources to purchasing flood insurance are hyperlinked in the previous blog
Stay safe my friends!
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