Risk of exceptional floods in the American West hit by drought

Risk of exceptional flooding in the drought-stricken American West

UPDATE DAY

Part of the American West already severely affected by a historic drought has been placed on exceptional flood alert with nearly 15 centimeters of precipitation expected in places, according to the weather services on Friday.  

A “significant period of precipitation” could affect the states of Arizona and New Mexico, causing exceptional flooding, especially in areas ravaged by fires, said the National Weather Service (NWS).

Heavy rainfall is expected in particular “in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico today (Friday) and Saturday,” the same source said.

The western United States is experiencing its 23rd year of drought, and these cycles are being exacerbated by human-induced climate change.

The risk of heavy precipitation events increases with rising temperatures.

But sudden heavy rains don't necessarily help.

“If the water falls heavily in a very short time, it runs off,” meteorologist Chris Rasmussen told AFP. from the NWS in Tucson, Arizona. “It doesn't have time to be really absorbed by the ground as we would like to see it”.

At the beginning of the month, intense and very rare rainfall in the famous and desert valley de la Mort, in California, had caused major flooding.