Gila County supervisors declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning, as the third winter storm this week threatened to dump up to six inches of rain, potentially isolating communities by flooding roads. The earlier storms dropped one to two inches of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.
Crossings of the Tonto Creek are already closed, and county officials said the creek could ultimately run as fast as 50,000 cubic feet-per-second. Water is considered dangerous at 1,000 cubic feet-per-second.
“Honestly, it looks like the Amazon,” said county Director of Emergency Management Matt Bolinger.
Public Works Director Steve Stratton said no extensive damage has yet occurred. “The stage has been set by the previous storms,” he said, adding that the county felt it prudent to declare the emergency in preparation.
Residents living in isolated subdivisions in the northern part of the county including East Verde Estates, Whispering Pines and Flowing Springs should gather supplies like food and propane in case flooding traps them indoors. Officials said residents should prepare for two or three homebound days.
County officials are monitoring a dike in Tonto Creek south of the Bar X crossing, nearby 75 homes. Sandbags are available to patch it, but residents should be aware.
County officials will work to barricade flooded roads as quickly as possible, but people should be careful when crossing a running wash.
A break in the clouds Wednesday allowed Rim Country residents to see blue sky, but the National Weather Service is forecasting rain and a chance of snow through Saturday.
Rain is expected to resume in town after 11 p.m. Wednesday, however people above 6,000 feet can expect three to five inches of snow Wednesday night.
Heavy rain is expected Thursday in town, with a possible transition to snow Friday morning. One to three inches of snow is possible in Payson on Friday.
On Friday night, another three to five inches of snow is possible, with a 70 percent chance of precipitation.
Saturday carries a 40 percent chance of snow showers, with less than one inch predicted. The weather service says a slight chance of rain continues on Sunday, with the sun finally expected to shine on Monday. Then Tuesday holds another slight chance of showers.