Record rainfall hits burn scar areas in Flagstaff, Arizona

Coconino County officials, Arizona are reporting a 200- to 500-year rainfall event hit Museum Fire Burn Scar in Flagstaff, Arizona on August 17, 2021.

At approximately 12:15 MST on August 17 (19:15 UTC, August 16), rain began to fall over the Museum Fire Burn Scar, county officials said in a press release.

"By the time the large storm system moved out of the area, the entire burn area was saturated, resulting in the largest rainfall event to date."

The gauges located throughout the burn scar recorded the following hourly totals:

77.9 mm (3.07 inches) in south gauge

60.9 mm (2.4 inches) in western gauge

38.1 mm (1.5 inches) in the eastern gauge

and 19 mm (.75 inches) at the northern gauge.

In addition, the rainfall was intense with over 28.9 mm (1.14 inches) recorded in the south and west gauges in 15 minutes and 26.9 mm (1.06 inches) recorded at the east gauge.

Not only was significant rainfall experienced on the burn scar itself, but also in the Sunnyside neighborhood. In an hour, 30.9 mm (1.22 inches) fell at Linda Vista and 38.1 mm (1.5 inches) was recorded downstream in neighborhoods.

The rainfall recorded at the south gauge equates to a 200- to 500-year rainfall event, county officials said.

The rainfall over the entirety of the burn scar, combined with the significant rainfall in the neighborhood, resulted in flooding that closed roads and overtopped mitigation. Significant debris was seen in the stormwater given that a large area of the burn scar had not previously experienced heavy rainfall.

Featured image credit: NWS Flagstaff


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Eric Hoelscher 3 months ago

I’ve studied meteorology and was a storm chaser back in the 1990’s. I’ve been in AZ for 21 years, and this is just common sense that when people start building homes in areas that have slopes off of mountains where there has been fires you get floods. Unfortunately the property damage and loss of life is sad, none of this would make the news if there were no people or property in these areas. I lived and witnessed the floods of 1993 in the central plains/upper Midwest before the internet/YouTube/Social media. If those platforms would’ve been around then, I could only imagine how many would be screaming about that, especially when Yitzach Rabin was getting ready to sign a peace deal with Yassir Arafat, and then Yizach was assassinated. I enjoy your articles, there needs to be more content backed with historical articles when it comes to certain topics though.

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