Storm floods Downtown Albuquerque, cuts Railrunner service to Santa Fe

Roberto E. Rosales/Journal. Central Avenue flooded late Friday night when the city was hit with a deluge of rain.

Central Avenue flooded late Friday night when the city was hit with a deluge of rain. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Central Avenue flooded late Friday night when the city was hit with a deluge of rain. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Central Avenue flooded late Friday night when the city was hit with a deluge of rain. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

A man's car floats on Central Avenue after being caught in the flash flood in Downtown Albuquerque on Friday night. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

A man’s car floats on Central Avenue after being caught in the flash flood in Downtown Albuquerque on Friday night. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Central Avenue flooded late Friday night when the city was hit with a deluge of rain. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Central Avenue flooded late Friday night when the city was hit with a deluge of rain. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

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Record-breaking rain fell on Downtown and other parts of Albuquerque on Friday night, causing flooding and prompting a large Saturday-morning cleanup.

More than 2.75 inches of rain fell in two hours near Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, and other parts of the city’s Downtown and in the university area saw similarly impressive totals.

UNM’s North Campus saw 2.51 inches of rain, and 2.16 inches fell near Constitution and Girard.

At the Sunport, just over an inch fell, breaking a 1993 daily record.

And it wasn’t just Albuquerque. Railrunner service to Santa Fe has been canceled today while crews work to repair a railroad bridge washed out by heavy rains near Budaghers overnight.

Officials say service will continue between Belen and the U.S. 550 station on the northern edge of Bernalillo. Service to Santa Fe should be restored Sunday, they said.

A New Mexico Department of Transportation spokeswoman said heavy rains caused a culvert to overflow and wash out ballasts beneath the tracks. Ballasts sit under railroad tracks and help with drainage and stability.

Meanwhile, PNM crews were working this morning to restore power to the Hoffmantown area in the Northeast Heights, where trees fell on power lines. PNM was reporting that the outage was affecting about 1400 customers.

Pahl Shipley, a PNM spokesman, said crews have been working to restore minor outages, often of as few as one or two people, all day Saturday. Of the outages where the cause was determined, all but one were weather related, he said.

Power should be restored to those places without power by 5 p.m. today, according to the PNM outage map.

Shipley said the outages were caused by a combination of both lightning and trees being whipped into power lines.

The intense rain in Albuquerque, most of which fell between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday, caused flooding and some dIamage Downtown. NWS meteorologist Amanda Martin said drivers abandoned their cars under the First Street bridge over Central Avenue, and other cars were completely submerged.

The Central Avenue underpass was still closed this morning while workers cleared the roadway.

Mark Motsko, the city municipal development director, also said the pressure on the system was so intense that water blew away the concrete ring around a manhole cover on Broadway between Central and Lomas. The road there will be closed Sunday and Motsko said the city hopes to have at least one lane open by Monday for the early-morning rush.

Overall, Motsko said the waterways efficiently handled a huge amount of water in a short space of time in a small area.

“It was just a lot of rain concentrated in a short amount of time,” he said. “But it did work.”

He said crews will be on call throughout the weekend to try and deal with any flooding or other weather-related issues that might occur.

Martin also said a rockslide spilled onto an Interstate 25 access road near Central and Lomas, and that the service got at least one report of a downed tree in the middle of the city.

An Albuquerque police spokesman said officers were busy much of the night with stranded cars and power outages, particularly in the South Valley, in addition to malfunctioning traffic lights throughout the city.

Water was flowing thigh-high above the sidewalks Downtown at one point, and the Albuquerque Police Department blocked Central at Broadway.Water was up to the roof of a car at Central and First Street, and two people were rescued by fire crews. They appeared to be unharmed. A third person was rescued from a different car, according to the Albuquerque Fire Department.

Westbound Martin Luther King Jr. was also blocked, and a large sinkhole had developed around midnight where the street with Central. Traffic was being rerouted. Broadway and Lomas was also heavily flooded.

An APD spokesman said multiple areas along Broadway and Downtown were closed late Friday, and manhole covers were rising, leaving holes in the street that motorists couldn’t see. He said to use caution when driving in the area.

Construction cones near I-25 and Central were washed away, and some motorists were stranded. The water was above the sidewalks along Central Avenue and at the University of New Mexico.


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