High Risk of Flash Flooding in Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Burned Area

US Department of Agriculture Forest Service

​Santa Fe National Forest

Forest Service News Release

Santa Fe National Forest

11 Forest Lane, Santa Fe, NM 87508

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Media Contact: Jodi Mallozzi

(702) 278-3849 (cell)


High Risk of Flash Flooding in Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Burned Area

SANTA FE, NM – July 11, 2022 – The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) urges communities and landowners in proximity to the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon burn scar to closely monitor alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque this week as a back door cold front brings erratic monsoonal moisture and potential for flash flooding.

NWS Albuquerque has issued a flash flood watch from noon today through Tuesday evening. Storms are forecasted to produce 1-2 inches of rain in less than an hour. This type of rainfall can create dangerous flash flooding conditions and potential debris flows over and below recent burn scars.

Post-wildfire flash flooding and debris flows are a very real threat to homes and communities in areas that have experienced a recent wildfire. It is crucial to plan and prepare for this type of hazard. Normally, vegetation absorbs rainfall, reducing runoff. However, wildfires leave the ground charred, barren, and unable to absorb water, creating conditions ripe for flash flooding and mudflow. Flood risk remains significantly higher during the summer monsoon season until vegetation is restored.

Debris flows are fast and deadly. They can travel faster than you can run and are able to catch up to a moving vehicle. No one can say precisely where a debris flow will start or where it will go. It is highly unpredictable, occurring in areas that have seen flooding before or beginning in a new place that has not experienced flooding in the past.

Forest users and community members are urged to pay extra attention when traveling in areas near burn scars. The best thing you can do is to have a plan and prepare to react to flash flooding and debris flows.

  • Check National Weather Service forecasts often and know the weather, keeping in mind summer storms often build in the afternoon and evenings.  It is advised to have multiple ways to receive warnings.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts with your county or local Emergency Management Agency.
  • Make an emergency kit and plan evacuation routes. Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do during a flash flood emergency.
  • Follow evacuation instructions from local officials and news outlets.
  • Watch for environmental cues, including the sounds of rushing water, unusual sounds like trees cracking or boulders knocking together, or any movement of fences, retaining walls, utility poles, boulders, or trees as a sign to leave immediately.

The danger posed by flash flooding and debris flows is real, and the safest strategy is to get out of the way. Be aware that by the time you are sure a debris flow is coming, it’s too late to get away safely. Never cross a road with water or mud flowing. Never cross a bridge if you see a flow approaching. It can grow faster and larger too quickly to escape. If you get stuck in a landslide path, move uphill as quickly as possible.

For more information visit: National Weather Service |NM Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management| After Wildfire New Mexico Guide|Hermits Peak & Calf Canyon Fire Burned Area Emergency Response information |New Mexico State Emergency Operations Center: 1-800-432-2080

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