GRAHAM COUNTY – The monsoon rains have hit the Gila Valley, and while the precipitation is welcome, it does not come without dangers.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Safford and the surrounding area to be in effect until 12 a.m., Thursday.
According to the Monsoon Safety Awareness fact sheet issued by the state of Arizona, flash floods are the number one thunderstorm-related killer with most deaths occurring in vehicles. Most vehicles can be carried away in moving water just 1 to 2 feet deep and motorists are encouraged not to drive through any running washes or flooded roads.
While the monsoon didn’t produce much precipitation in July, August burst open with a downpour early Tuesday morning that left residents around the county with newly formed ponds in their yards.
While the University of Arizona Meteorological Network Agriculture Station east of Safford recorded 1.26 inches of rain Tuesday, numerous rain gauges throughout the Gila Valley saw significantly more, including Gerald and Leasa Schmidt’s rain gauge located on the east side of Pima, which registered 2.5 inches for the storm.
The National Weather Service lists a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms for the area on Wednesday. The chance of rain tapers to 40 percent on Thursday, down to 30 percent through the weekend to just 20 percent by Sunday night.