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Swimming in the streets

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — [photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G00005HxOJsyhKyo” g_name=”2014-ABQ-Flash-Flood” width=”600″ f_fullscreen=”t” bgtrans=”t” pho_credit=”iptc” twoup=”f” f_bbar=”t” f_bbarbig=”f” fsvis=”f” f_show_caption=”t” crop=”f” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_l=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”f” f_show_slidenum=”t” f_topbar=”f” f_show_watermark=”t” img_title=”casc” linkdest=”c” trans=”xfade” target=”_self” tbs=”5000″ f_link=”t” f_smooth=”f” f_mtrx=”t” f_ap=”t” f_up=”f” height=”400″ btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” ]No, you weren’t dreaming.

Orange traffic-control barrels floated like clipper ships down Central Avenue, through the Huning Highland neighborhood, toward Downtown. Shoes floated by residents inside one university-area home. And people swam in the streets. Of Albuquerque.

But lots of water makes for a glass half full, too.

“Granted, a deluge of rain all at once is not great, (but) we’re getting water,” said Amanda Martin, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “It helps out with the drought and it has definitely been making a dent in our drought conditions.”

A large Saturday morning cleanup was in order after record-breaking rain fell on Downtown and other parts of Albuquerque late Friday night, causing flooding, submerging some cars, closing roads and creating other messes.

On Saturday, crews clean up Central Avenue under the railroad bridge between Broadway and First Street in Albuquerque. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

On Saturday, crews clean up Central Avenue under the railroad bridge between Broadway and First Street in Albuquerque. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

More than 2.75 inches of rain fell in two hours near Martin Luther King Jr. and University, 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.

The drenching rain set up interesting situations and sights for some Duke City residents.

Kara Filipas, a University of New Mexico student, was watching TV with her boyfriend in the university area Friday when water poured in from under the door and the water heater around 11 p.m.

Within 10 minutes, water was 3 inches deep, she said, so she recruited several family members to help bail the couple out. They stayed up cleaning until 3:30 a.m., she said.

“We’d have shoes go floating by,” she said. “It was coming in quite strong.”

A flash flood hit Downtown Albuquerque late Friday night, submerging cars and causing road closures. Two people were rescued from this car near First and Central. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

A flash flood hit Downtown Albuquerque late Friday night, submerging cars and causing road closures. Two people were rescued from this car near First and Central. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

She said it was the pair’s first big storm in the rented house near Lead and Princeton SE, and it means they’re moving out.

“It will also be our last big storm,” she said, adding that she lost DVDs, books and rugs to the flood.

Due west, in Downtown Albuquerque, bargoers rushed into NYPD Pizza when the streets began to flood, a server there said Saturday.

The Back Alley Draft House behind the pizzeria, which also flooded during a monsoon rain last July, again had ankle-deep water in areas inside the bar. Water poured in over sidewalks, through the door and down the stairs, said Rosalia Santillanes-Lopez, a server.

“There were people basically swimming in the streets,” she said. “There was a guy doing belly flops.”

And it wasn’t just Albuquerque.

Rail Runner train service to Santa Fe was canceled Saturday while crews worked to repair a railroad bridge washed out by heavy rains near Budaghers overnight. Service continued between Belen and U.S. 550 station by Bernalillo on Saturday and service to Santa Fe should be restored today.

A state Department of Transportation spokeswoman said heavy rains caused a culvert to overflow and wash out ballasts beneath the tracks.

PNM crews were working Saturday morning to restore power to the Hoffmantown area in the Northeast Heights, where trees fell on power lines. The outage affected about 1,400 customers.

Pahl Shipley, a PNM spokesman, said crews were 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, and 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 damage Downtown.

Martin said drivers abandoned their cars under the railroad track bridge over Central Avenue and other cars were completely submerged. The Central Avenue underpass remained closed Saturday morning while workers cleared the roadway.

Mark Motsko, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Municipal Development, 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 today, 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.”

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 Friday night with stranded cars and power outages, in addition to malfunctioning traffic lights throughout the city.

Water was thigh-high Downtown at one point during the Friday night deluge, and APD blocked Central at Broadway. Water was up to the roof of a car at Central and First Street; 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 blocked at Broadway and Lomas, and Broadway was also heavily flooded.

On Saturday, very little rain had fallen on the state by 10:30 p.m., with the most precipitation – 0.87 of an inch – falling west of Questa, according to the weather service. An area near Mogollon in the southwest received between 0.62 and 1.04 inches, and parts of the Gila National Forest had around 0.75 inches. A report of 0.11 of an inch was also recorded in Gallup.

Meteorologist Tim Shy said there’s still a chance of thunderstorms today across the western part of the state, including Albuquerque.

“It’s nothing to cancel the wedding for, but you don’t want to be too far from a raincoat or umbrella,” Shy said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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