Flash floods in Albuquerque arroyos result in one fatality, New Mexico

Flash floods in Albuquerque arroyos result in one fatality

One person was killed and two others were rescued in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Sunday, June 9, 2024, after heavy rain caused flash floods in the city’s arroyo system. Flash Flood Warnings were in place at the time of the incident, with 50 – 100 mm (2 – 4 inches) of rain forecasted by the National Weather Service (NWS).

Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) responded to two emergencies around 15:00 local time. One involved a report of two people who were swept away in an arroyo channel flowing through Snow Heights, Morningside, Menaul, Montgomery, Osuna, and Alameda.

Around the same time, AFR received another emergency call, reporting that one more person was stranded in water near Wyoming and Indian School in northeast Albuquerque.

Rescue efforts at the first arroyo location proved successful, with firefighters and police saving one person. However, the second individual was found dead. In a separate rescue, firefighters deployed a harness and belay system to pull the third person from the raging waters near Wyoming Boulevard.

Albuquerque’s arroyos, meaning “streams” in Spanish, usually lie dormant, but these channels can turn into raging torrents during heavy rains when water rapidly flows from higher ground, transforming these seemingly dry paths into flash flood hazards.

“It is extremely important for our community to understand the dangers of the arroyo system and ditches located throughout the city. Although what may appear as a small storm far away from one location in the city these arroyos will quickly fill and sweep anyone in them with fast moving water. These arroyos are designed to safely divert water away from the city and no one should access or occupy them,” AFR said. 

“We can’t stress it enough! Stay out of arroyos! Even if it’s not raining at your location. Upstream storms can bring torrents of water downstream in a matter of minutes!” warned the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

According to Willie West of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA), the floods were caused by heavy rain in a concentrated area.

West highlighted the need for an automated warning system, which AMAFCA has been working on for nearly a decade. The challenges include integrating different technologies and adapting them to Albuquerque’s unique arroyo system.

Additionally, concerns exist about potential vandalism and the risk of false alarms triggered by New Mexico’s unpredictable weather patterns. For now, the Ditch and Water Safety Task Force will continue efforts to educate. AMAFCA couldn’t provide a specific timeline for the automated system.

In 2021, the city saw the most fatalities from swift water events in its recent history. In just one week of July that year, four people lost their lives.

Warmer temperatures are expected today, along with another round of showers and thunderstorms, favoring areas along and east of the Sangre de Cristos, with a brief strong or severe storm possible.


1 1 killed in Albuquerque after heavy rain sends raging water into arroyo system – FOX Weather – June 10, 2024

2 How officials are addressing arroyo safety in Albuquerque – KOB – June 11, 2024


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