Freak Flood Closes Road To Roosevelt


ADOT crews diligently scoop up as much sand and mud as possible as they clean up the mess left by the recent mudslide on Highway 188 at milepost 254. The road was closed until 3 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23.

ADOT crews diligently scoop up as much sand and mud as possible as they clean up the mess left by the recent mudslide on Highway 188 at milepost 254. The road was closed until 3 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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A cloud burst Wednesday deposited a six-foot-deep layer of debris on Highway 188, blocking access to Roosevelt Lake for most of the day.

The road closure complicated the opening of the internationally televised bass fishing tournament at the lake, although most of the fishermen were already at the launch ramp before the flood.

“We had a large amount of rain in a very short amount of time,” said Laura Douglas, spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation. “It flooded the wash and pushed six feet of mud and rock onto the roadway.”

The flash flood closed the road at about 6 a.m., and ADOT crews had the road reopened at 3 p.m., after scraping off 2,600 cubic yards of debris.

Crews also opened the concrete culvert under the road, which had filled up with sand and rock.

Douglas put the estimated ultimate cost of the work at $40,000, which includes clearing the roadway, bulldozing the wash to make sure water flows into the culvert, and replacing a damaged guardrail.

The storm that blustered through Rim Country early Wednesday dropped about 1.4 inches at the National Weather Service rain gauge at the Payson Airport, but clearly included small cells that delivered much more intense amounts of rain.

The forecast calls for the storms to clear off through the weekend, with highs in the 80s and lows in the lower 50s.

The odd little storm continues a rollercoaster year on the Rim Country weather front. January was a record breaker — and so was July, with intense storms that delivered two or three times the long-term average for the month.

However, the spring proved dry — and so did normally reliable August.

Fortunately, for the bass fishermen on Roosevelt, the challenging weather of the opening day should give way to clear skies and warm temperatures — and hopefully much easier access for fans to the afternoon weigh-in ceremonies.

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