Flash flooding imminent for Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak burn scar

By Matthew Reisen / Journal Staff Writer

State Police go house to house in Cleveland warning people about potential flood runoff from areas burned by the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire, Friday June 17, 2022. Many people in the area have lined their properties with sandbags. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the area surrounding the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire.

A NWS official said flash floods are “believed to be imminent” for the area due to heavy rainfall.

“Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly,” according to a news release from San Miguel and Mora counties.

The warning issued Tuesday afternoon is in effect until 5 p.m. as Doppler radar and local rain gauges show moderate to heavy rain over the burn scar of the largest fire in the state’s history.

The release states hazards include “life threatening flash flooding.”

Officials said up to a half-inch of rain has fallen since 11 a.m. in the Gallinas Creek and Tecolote Creek watersheds and at least another quarter-inch is expected.

The release said excessive rainfall over the burn scar will impact the Gallinas Creek and Gallinas River drainage area, including Porvenir Canyon, Arroyo Pecosm Agua Zarca and Vegosa Creek.

“The debris flow can consist of rock, mud vegetation and other losse materials,” according to the release.

Other locations that will experience flash flooding are: Las Vegas, El Porvenir, Montezuma, Storrie Lake State Park, Romeroville, Gallinas, Mineral Hill, San Geronimo, San Pablo and Ojitos Frios.

Recent rains have helped slow the blaze, which sits at 341,371 acres and 72% contained, but the possibility of flash floods on the massive burn scar has been among the top concerns of local leaders and residents for weeks.

The New Mexico National Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were working to mitigate flood risks in San Miguel County in recent days.

The agencies cleared debris near bridges and placed barriers around critical infrastructure in Las Vegas to quell possible damage from flash floods.

Residents have been stacking sandbags around properties in the area since Friday as State Police went home to home warning about the dangers posed by flash floods hitting the burn scar.

This article originally appeared in The Albuquerque Journal.