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Albuquerque rainfall breaks record from 1929

A sinkhole formed in the median of Interstate 40 about 20 miles west of Albuquerque, which KOAT-TV reported was 20 feet deep before the rains fell Friday. (Courtesy of KOAT-TV)
A sinkhole formed in the median of Interstate 40 about 20 miles west of Albuquerque, which KOAT-TV reported was 20 feet deep before the rains fell Friday. (Courtesy of KOAT-TV)
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — FOR THE RECORD: This story incorrectly stated that Albuquerque’s average annual precipitation is 6.82 inches. That figure represents the year-to-date average precipitation through Sept. 15. The annual average for the official National Weather Service station at the airport is 8.67 inches.


12:35 p.m.

Heavy rain has led to road closures throughout Rio Rancho according to the City of Rio Rancho website, http://ci.rio-rancho.nm.us/index.aspx?NID=170.

Residents in the area near Northern Boulevard and Alberta report widespread erosion and sand blocking driveways.

The following roads are closed: Rainbow Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and Progress Boulevard; Progress Boulevard between Rainbow Boulevard and Unser; Eric Road between Northern Boulevard and Chessman Drive.

Northern Boulevard at 10th Street heading west is reduced to one-way traffic.

The city estimates the roads will reopen on Wednesday.

These roads are closed until further notice: Monterrey Road at the retention pond between Kim Road and Obregon Road; Carson Road at the arroyo crossing between Kim Road and Teton Avenue; Gros Ventre Drive at arroyo crossing between Kim Road and Iris Road.


This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

Albuquerque rainfall breaks record from 1929

by Aurelio Sanchez / Journal Staff Writer

Sinkhole opens in median of I-40

Record-breaking rainfall inundated Albuquerque and New Mexico late Saturday and Sunday, flooding roads, cresting bridges, knocking out power and creating hazardous driving conditions throughout the state.

Some parts of New Mexico reported eye-popping rainfall totals since Tuesday, including 9.35 inches in Frijoles near Bandelier National Monument, which received 7.58 inches. Record rainfall also fell in Mogollon in Catron County with 9.24 inches, and Los Alamos with 7.22 inches.

In Albuquerque, more than 2 inches of rain fell between Saturday night and Sunday, and even before Sunday morning’s rain, Albuquerque experienced a five-day record.

“It looks like over a five-day period in Albuquerque, we had 3.16 inches of rain, and we could have more if it continues to come down today and during the evening,” meteorology technician Troy Marshall of the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office said Sunday. That includes 1.22 inches ending at midnight Saturday.a00_jd_16sept_NMrainfall

The next highest five-day total for rainfall was 3.10 inches in September 1929, he said.

The forecast called for a chance of more rain, “with thunderstorms looming all around us,” Marshall said, adding that flash-flood warnings would continue in effect for most of Sunday.

“We’ve got ground in a lot of cases that are completely saturated, so it doesn’t take a lot of additional rain to cause flooding,” he added.

The latest onslaught of rain brings the total to 7.24 inches, which is already above the city’s 6.82 inches annual average, and there are still three months to go.

On Sunday, Gov. Susana Martinez announced that the New Mexico Emergency Operation Center was elevated to Level 2, to help coordinate resources for assisting victims of heavy rains and flash flooding.

Meteorologist Clay Anderson said prospects are good that upper level atmospheric conditions will move thunderstorms east out of the state but not for a few days.

“They (thunderstorms) are moving, that’s the good news,” Anderson said. “If they weren’t, we’d continue to have more serious issues.”

Albuquerque saw washed-out roads, powerful lightning strikes, rushing arroyos and electrical power out in some areas. State Department of Transportation crews were busy repairing a damaged drainage pipe that leaked and helped to create a huge sinkhole west of the city on Interstate 40, said DOT spokeswoman Melissa Dosher. She added the repair is being done with safety precautions in place to protect motorists and repair crews.

Rail Runner Express train service was canceled Sunday, according to an email from New Mexico Rail Runner Express. Crews are working to repair at least one bridge that washed out in Santo Domingo and inspecting other bridges in the corridor to ensure that today’s service will not be impacted.

The Socorro County Sheriff’s Office began evacuating the small community of Bernardo, where the flooding Rio Puerco meets the Rio Grande, late Sunday evening, according to resident Gordon “Corky” Herkenhoff.

In Crownpoint, authorities were expecting the imminent failure of a dam and evacuated the Indian Health Service Hospital on Sunday afternoon, but the dam held.

In Sierra County near Elephant Butte, State Police identified the lone weather-related fatality reported so far as Steven Elsley, 53, of Phoenix. He was killed when his car was washed into a ravine and carried for nearly a mile, State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said.

Estevan Lujan of the Emergency Operation Center in a phone interview said the hardest hit areas were in Catron County, on U.S. 180 between Glenwood and Alma.

The San Francisco River there crested at 32 feet overnight, going over the top of two bridges, and State Police and the Department of Transportation closed both bridges, he said.

On Sunday afternoon, the American Red Cross opened a shelter in Glenwood for displaced persons. The Catron County Sheriff’s Office evacuated 18 hunters because of high water levels, Lujan said. In the mountain town of Mogollon, 16 people were sheltered at the Glenwood Elementary School.

San Felipe Pueblo in Sandoval County reported some flooding. The Department of Health was working to get some medical help to residents in case there is a outbreak of sickness, Lujan said.

Anyone needing assistance is asked to call the Department of Health at 505-476-9635.

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