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Flash flooding, mud flows hit drivers on Road G near Utah

Doppler radar detected heavy thunderstorms in the southwest corner of Montezuma County Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather Service issued a weather alert at 1:30 p.m. Heavy rain caused flooding and debris flows across Montezuma County Road G near the Utah border. (Courtesy National Weather Service)
No injuries reported, county road crews clear debris

Heavy rain caused flash flooding and debris flows across Montezuma County Road G near the Utah border about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Mud, rocks and logs flowed onto the roadway at various points between mile marker 9 and mile marker 1, said Jay Balfour, Cortez Fire Protection District Chief.

The section of road was temporarily impassable, and drivers were told to avoid the area, according to a 3 p.m. alert from the Montezuma County Emergency Management office.

No injuries were reported.

The Montezuma County Road and Bridge Department brought in heavy equipment to clear away the mud and debris on Road G. The debris had been cleared by 6:45 p.m, and the road was open to traffic, according to the county alert system.

Drivers are advised to use caution, drive slow, and do not attempt to cross over flooded areas, said Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for areas north of Dove Creek, including Bedrock, the Lower Dolores River, Naturita, Ridgway and southeast Utah until Thursday evening.

The watch includes the Pack Creek and Pine Gulch fire burn scars. Burn scars will be especially susceptible to heavy rainfall, leading to quick runoff responses with debris and mud flows likely.

McElmo Creek saw flooding from heavy rainstorms Wednesday afternoon. The storms triggered mud flows across Road G. (Courtesy Cortez Fire Protection District Chief Jay Balfour)

A vehicle was stranded because of flooding on Road G, but was able to get free, Balfour said.

Another driver who drove through the flowing water stalled out. The driver was unharmed and declined assistance, Nowlin said.

The flooding across the roadway subsided by 5:30 p.m., and people were getting through, he said.

“Several rounds of storms lined up in that area, and it could become favorable for more storms overnight and tomorrow,” said Kris Sanders, National Weather Service meteorologist.

Flooding and debris flows occurred where arroyos intersected the road.

“It was quite a bit of mud, rocks the size of baseballs, and some logs,” Balfour said. “Drivers need to be aware, slow down.”

Fire crews were prepared for water rescues if necessary. Nearby McElmo Creek was a raging torrent, Balfour said. A nearby landowner reported one inch of rain fell in 30 minutes.

If come upon flooded roadway, do not attempt to drive through, Balfour said. Wait until it subsides or take an alternative route.

“Not much water can knock a vehicle off the road,” Balfour said, or the road could be washed away under the flow.

The heavy thunderstorms with strong winds Wednesday afternoon was detected by Doppler radar for the Four Corners and triggered an weather alert at 1:32 p.m. by the National Weather Service, and it was broadcast by Montezuma County Office of Emergency Management.

Monsoonal rains are forecast for the upcoming days in the the area, with the potential for flooding, strong winds and hail, Sanders said.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com