A man walks beside water flowing along the California Aqueduct in Hesperia, California on August 18, 2022. – The aqueduct is a system of canals, pipelines and tunnels transporting water collected from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and valleys of Northern and Central California to Southern California. California farmers are paying a premium for water of leaving their fields to sit empty amid an ongoing drought in the western United States, marking the region’s driest 22-year stretch in more than 1,200 years, according to the US Drought Monitor. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Drought-stricken parts of the western United States were warned Friday to be on alert for flash flooding, with up to six inches (15 centimeters) of rain expected in some areas.
The National Weather Service said “a significant heavy rainfall event” could strike Arizona and New Mexico, leading to sudden inundations — especially in areas previously ravaged by wildfires.
Very heavy rainfall is “forecast for portions of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico today and Saturday,” the NWS said.
“Average rainfall totals of 2-3 inches, with locally higher amounts approaching 5-6 inches, may lead to numerous instances of flash flooding.
“Complex terrain, slot canyons, arroyos, and burn scars are especially vulnerable,” the agency said.
The western United States is more than 20 years into a painful drought that has left rivers and reservoirs badly depleted, and the countryside tinder-dry.
But sudden, intense downpours like that forecast are not necessarily helpful.
“If the water all comes down over a very quick period of time, it’ll run off,” Chris Rasmussen, an NWS meteorologist in Tucson, Arizona, told AFP.
“It doesn’t get a chance to really soak into the ground, as you would like to see.
“It’s always nicer to have good, moderate amount of rains over a long period of time.”
Human activity, specifically the runaway use of fossil fuels over the last century, has caused the Earth’s average temperature to rise.
This has altered weather patterns, worsening droughts in some parts of the world, and intensifying storms in other areas.
© Agence France-Presse