Storm Dumps 5 Inches Of Rain


More than five inches of rain was produced by the first storm of winter in the Rim Country.

National weather observer Anna Mae Deming measured 5.10 inches of precipitation on Saturday, Dec. 1. According to weather statistics, the Payson area gets an average of 22 inches of rain per year, so the storm was responsible for almost a quarter of the community's annual total precipitation.


More than five inches of rain caused roads to be closed, like this East Verde Estates crossing. Despite the constant rain Friday and Saturday, law enforcement officials reported relatively minor problems.

Rain caused at least 11 accidents, including two rollovers, closed several roads and resulted in two water rescues and a time-consuming search for a missing kayaker in Tonto Creek.

The weekend's bad weather also dampened a few events and caused others to be postponed.

The primary impact of the storm was felt by public safety and road personnel.

The most labor-intensive incident for public safety personnel was the search for a missing kayaker in Tonto Creek on Sunday night and Monday morning. The Gila County Sheriff's Office was called to the Jake's Corner area at approximately 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2.

Two men began kayaking from the area of Gisela Sunday afternoon, traveling toward the Tonto Basin area. One of the men tipped over near the confluence of Rye Creek and Tonto Creek and became separated from the other man.

The GCSO, assisted by an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter and Tonto Search and Rescue members searched searched into the night and continued to look for the lost kayaker early Monday morning.

The DPS Tucson Ranger crew located the man at approximately 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3 and he was transported to the Mazatzal Rest Area on Highway 188 to be checked out.

Sheriff John Armer said early reports indicated the man appeared to be fine.

Area law enforcement offices reported only a few weather-related accidents.

Officer Tiffany Harold of the Payson office of the Department of Public Safety said they responded to 11 collisions related to the weather. She said there were at least two rollovers. None of the accidents resulted in serious injuries.

Lisa Hicks, with the Payson branch of the Gila County Sheriff's Office, reported deputies had to close the low-water crossing into East Verde Estates, the Second Crossing on Houston Mesa Road and a low-water crossing into the Flowing Springs residential area. Pine Creek Road was impassible for a while as well, Hicks said.

Weather-related calls started coming in at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 when deputies were called out to move a tree blocking lanes on Highway 260.

At approximately 8 a.m., a deputy responded to a report of someone stuck in a creek crossing in the Punkin Center area. Another citizen had pulled them out without incident.

The GCSO and county road crew both responded to A Cross Road and Tonto Creek at approximately 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 for a report of a vehicle with two people stuck in the creek crossing. The crossing had been closed due to the high flow of the creek from the storm.

The road crew took its heavy equipment into the creek and the people were brought out safely through a joint effort.

The driver of the vehicle, Lee R. Beasley, was cited and released for reckless operation of a motor vehicle and failure to obey barricades.

Deputies and the county sign department responded to a report of roads flooding in the Whispering Pines area at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Barricades were placed in some areas and road debris removed.

Chief Don Engler of the Payson Police Department said his officers had only about three calls that could have been weather-related. All were minor fender benders.

The main concern the PPD had was the off-and-on flooding of South McLane at the American Gulch crossing. It had to be closed several times, he said. Crews had to go into the area Monday to remove mud and debris from the roadway.

The Arizona Department of Transportation maintenance crews were kept busy by the storm -- moving numerous small rockslides from both Highways 87 and 260, plus there was snow to deal with at higher elevations.

Rick Hounshell of ADOT said neither highway was closed because of the weather.

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