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Officials watch for flooding in Socorro County

Tyson Hatch of the US geological Survey works on the Rio Puerco gauge at Bernardo. The gauge washed out overnight. (John Fleck/Journal)

Tyson Hatch of the US geological Survey works on the Rio Puerco gauge at Bernardo. The gauge washed out overnight. (John Fleck/Journal)

A bankfull Rio Grande is still peaking at Escondida at 12:45 p.m., Monday. (John Fleck/Journal)

A bankfull Rio Grande is still peaking at Escondida at 12:45 p.m., Monday. (John Fleck/Journal)

9:30 a.m.

A handful of houses in the tiny community of San Francisco, at the mouth of the Rio Puerco, have seen minor flooding, according to Ed Sweeney of the Socorro County Sheriff’s Office.


9:24 a.m.

NM 60 has been closed east of Interstate 25 due to flooding from the Rio Puerco.


7:33 a.m., Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

Officials were concerned about possible flooding overnight in low-lying areas where the Rio Puerco meets the Rio Grande in Socorro County. According to Kerry Jones of the National Weather Service, there has been no major flooding, but officials continue to watch as the water makes its way through Socorro County.


8:22 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013

Flood control managers are closely watching the Rio Grande through Socorro County tonight, with high flows on the Rio Grande and large additional pulse of flood water entering the river out of the Rio Puerco. The Socorro County sheriff’s office late this evening began evacuating the little community of Bernardo, where the Rio Puerco and Rio Grande meet.

The combination has raised concern among residents, according to Gordon “Corky” Herkenhoff, a farmer in San Acacia, a small village along the Rio Grande in Socorro County.

The Rio Puerco, which flows south from Cuba, has been rising all day, and is now nearly as large at the Rio Grande at Bernardo, where the two rivers meet. The U.S. Geological Survey recalibrated the gauge today that measures the Puerco’s flow, and the current reading, 3,690 cubic feet per second and rising, is the highest flow since a summer monsoon storm in August 2006. Combined with a current flow of more than 4,000 cubic feet per second at the San Acacia dam adjacent to Herkenhoff’s farm, the flows are a concern, the longtime farmer said.

For now, it appears the flows won’t reach danger levels in Socorro and points south, according to Ryan Gronewold with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The biggest danger is downstream, where some farms on the river’s east bank are unprotected by levees, but it appears the water will not rise to reach them, Gronewold said.

“I think we’re OK,” Gronewold said this evening.

However to the north, along the Puerco itself, the low-lying community of San Francisco between I-25 and the Rio Grande and the railroad bridge there could see flooding, with waters there potentially the highest they have been since the 1940s, according to the National Weather Service. One of the risks in that stretch of the river is flow on ungauged arroyos and rivers, especially the Rio Salado, in eastern Socorro County, according to Kerry Jones at the National Weather Service.

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