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Celebrate the rain, but be mindful

Rain is on its way.

Celebrate.

But also watch out.

Rescue crews and police were working late into Thursday night in Belen after a ditch overflowed from torrential rain, causing widespread flooding.

Valencia County Dispatch said no injuries, stranded vehicles, evacuations or displaced residents were reported.

Officials said torrential rain caused a breach in a ditch, near Mesa and Hansen, which led to much of the flooding.

Crews used a dump truck to fill the breach and expected to have it plugged by early this morning.

Although no residents were displaced, the Red Cross set up a shelter at Jaramillo Elementary School as a precaution.

Rio Rancho also saw heavy rains which led to one stranded motorist who drove around road crews and stalled their vehicle in the underpass of Paseo Del Vulcan, which was flooded. Both the driver and car were recovered safely.

As more rain is expected, another thing to watch for is mudslides — especially in areas around current wildfires or wildfires from recent years.

Around those areas, the amount of rain anticipated to fall is expected to wash down with force dragging along debris.

These areas are called burn scars, devoid of the foliage that keeps the ground in place when rain falls. Without that foliage, rain rushes off the surface often taking dirt, sticks and rocks with it.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kerry Jones’ weather update Thursday included “high-extreme burn scar flash flood potential.” He mentioned the Morris Creek fire in Colfax County and the Sardinas Canyon Fire in the Carson National Forest south of Taos, both still being fought.

“A quarter-inch of rain in 15 minutes will do it,” Jones said. “It doesn’t take much rainfall to generate major problems.”

And there is expected to be more than a little bit of rain under the conditions that are brewing.

In a weather hotline update, Jones called the set-up “pretty juicy” for delivering near-daily rainfall in most of the state with a “focus across northern and western New Mexico, especially the mountains and adjacent valleys to include the Rio Grande Valley.”

Meteorologists predicted an early start to the monsoon in June that “fell apart,” Jones said.

But with this prediction, meteorologists have “pretty good confidence” the accumulating moisture in the air will deliver the strongest monsoon storms yet.

These storms, though, are arriving in a “reverse monsoon” pattern, Jones said.

Monsoon storms usually travel to the east and northeast, but this set-up looks to be sending the storms to the west, northwest and southwest. That means the eastern part of the state will likely be skipped by the storms.

That’s good news for Taos, Albuquerque and the Rio Grande corridor, which could expect storms starting Thursday and visiting every day until Wednesday.

Jones said there will likely be a brief dip in the daily storm power on Saturday and Sunday but it is hoped that it “jumps right back up” for next week.

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