Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours
sabotlours

Flood!

It has been an interesting few days here in the Land of Enchantment. At first the Weather Service was completely lost in how to forecast this week's weather. Some models were suggesting that we could be in store for a significant rainfall event. Some models suggested that the rain would stay to the west. On Monday the models started to agree that NM would see a lot of rain. Words like "record-breaking" were being tossed about. My favorite phrase that was used was that one model was predicting "dizzying amounts" of precipitation. I liked those terms!

On Tuesday we enjoyed steady rain all day long. The Rio Grande came up quite a bit, and the irrigation district was able to fill/recharge their canals. Yesterday we had a respite while the bulk of the rain stayed to the east in the Pecos River basin. Looking at rainfall-total maps it appears that some places got 4-5" which is just insane. All of that water had to go somewhere.

This morning I walked into the office and was immediately pulled into an emergency management meeting. The Pecos River was going apeshit along its entire course. Peak flows were unbelievably high. Normally dry arroyos were flowing full. Fortunately the few reservoirs along the river's course were just about empty. My jaw dropped as I saw reservoirs rising 12' in a day. The city of Carlsbad (where the caverns are) was going to see a significant pulse travel through town this morning. My contribution to the whole exercise was to get everyone set up on where to find data on the web and to keep the updates coming in. I monitored stream gauges up and down the system as well as reservoir levels. I also kept tabs on the Weather Service as they issued flash flood watches and warnings. It was actually pretty cool because it wasn't really a crisis. It was certainly an event for the books, but it appeared that things remained well below the threshold where there is a threat to life and property. I just heard that the news media has showed up in the office to get an update from our public affairs person.

What is interesting about all of this is that we just went through an exercise on Tuesday where there was a threat to one of our dams. We have our response levels where different things have to occur and people get notified. While it was a "fun" exercise, there's nothing like doing the real thing. It's also a good feeling to know that the training was actually worthwhile. Everyone knows what to do with no need to panic and freak out. Granted, this is a pretty low-level event. I'm sure there would be more freaking out if a dam was about to fail.
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