Inch Of Rain Triggers Mudslides

A storm dumped an inch of rain on Rim Country Wednesday, again washing mud down on Houston Mesa Road.

A storm dumped an inch of rain on Rim Country Wednesday, again washing mud down on Houston Mesa Road. Photo by Alexis Bechman. |

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Another deluge wreaked havoc on Houston Mesa Road this week.

This week’s downpour did less damage than a flood in July that caused a landslide near the Water Wheel day-use area, leaving boulders and debris blocking the roadway. However, the parking lot was once again filled with silt Wednesday.

An inch of rain sent road crews scrambling to re-clear the road.

South of the day-use area, a Gila County road crew used a tractor to clear a plugged culvert.

The East Verde River, which meanders alongside the roadway, appeared brown and cloudy. Several downed trees lay in the stream.

In town, the power went out at Walmart Wednesday morning for several hours, forcing customers to abandon their shopping carts in the dimly lit store.

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Photographer DJ Craig captured this image of an approaching monsoon storm just before lightning strikes drove him to take shelter in his car atop the Rim.

North of Water Wheel, construction had halted Wednesday on a new bridge at Second Crossing.

While not finished, the new bridge is open and drivable.

The county is replacing two low, concrete pad water crossings along Houston Mesa Road. Besides new bridges, the work also includes some roadway realignment, drainage and channel improvements, concrete box culverts, minor wall structures and signing.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors last year agreed to contribute $300,000 to the $5.4 million cost of building the bridges on Houston Mesa and Control roads.

On the Control Road in Tonto Village, work includes a single-span bridge and re-grading the channel under the proposed bridge.

Despite the recent rains, Payson and all of Arizona remain in a drought.

Across the Southwest, only one-half to two-thirds of normal precipitation has fallen during the last six to nine months, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

The water level at Lake Mead has dropped to 1,080 feet, the lowest since the lake was filled in the 1930s. The lake has been below its “drought” level for all but five of the past 33 months.

Lake Powell is low, but faring better. After reaching 3,570 feet in mid-April, the lake rebounded to 3,610 feet at the end of July.

So far for August, Payson has received 2.55 inches of rain.

The National Weather Service is calling for drier weather this weekend with just a slight chance of rain Saturday night and Sunday.

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