PRESCOTT/FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The monsoon is not letting up in the high country. Folks in the Prescott and Prescott Valley areas saw heavy rain, high winds and even hail on Sunday. One viewer sent us video of a powerful storm lashing the parking lot of Prescott Valley Home Depot.
Viewers in the Doney Park area, northeast of Flagstaff, sent us videos and photos of hail in the area. Some of the hailstones were almost the size of a penny.
As monsoon activity is expected to ramp up over the next week, residents in the Flagstaff area are bracing for more rain and possible flash flooding.
A flash flood warning for Coconino County was in effect until 6:15 p.m. And the National Weather Service in Flagstaff said a strong thunderstorm along I-40 from Ash Fork to Williams will create hazardous driving conditions with very heavy rainfall, pea sized-hail, and winds in excess of 40 mph.
Flagstaff already saw some serious flash flooding last week near the Museum Fire burn scar. The Museum Fire scorched the area in 2019. Recent storms dropped several inches of rain on that burn scar, and that rain led to serious street flooding. Crews had had to close off roads in several areas as fast-moving floodwaters close to a foot deep were reported. Debris and mud also filled the streets.
One of the most shocking sights we saw last week was a car actually being washed away down a Flagstaff street. In the video, shot by Taylor Landy, a street on the east side of Flagstaff turned into a river in Wednesday's monsoon rain. "Oh my God!" Landy screams as she sees a wave of muddy water carrying a gold Toyota Prius down the street.
In Flagstaff this weekend, residents have been preparing for more monsoon rain, stacking sandbags around their properties. "The water was about to come over, but he went and put those bags right there., and it is safer now," said Flagstaff resident Evelyn Slim.
"Fortunately, folks at Coconino County Flood Control Unit had the foresight to have a stockpile of sandbags. Seventy thousand going into this summer, which was super helpful," said Andy Bertelsen, the Flagstaff Public Works director.
In addition to the sandbag efforts, Coconino county crews have been performing site assessments for homes that are particularly vulnerable, and also for the elderly and disabled. The number to call to have your property assessed is 928-679-8525.
Coconino County officials say they started preparing years ago for this type of monsoon activity, and they say that's made the current damage much less significant than it might have been. "We implemented significant flood mitigation previously, both above Flagstaff and in Flagstaff," says Coconino County Deputy County Manager Lucinda Andreani.
In some cases, homes are even getting concrete barriers. "Some locations, we've identified that they need additional concrete barriers," said Andreani. "Where the water first enters the city, the floodwater literally over-topped the barrier. So we went in and developed a three-tiered system of barrier in that area. So that if it overtops, it gets caught by a next level, next level."
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency Friday morning as a response to the flash flooding in Coconino County. This Declaration of Emergency will provide $200,000 for response efforts to the Flagstaff area.
3:55 PM MST - A strong thunderstorm along I-40 from Ash Fork to Williams will create hazardous driving conditions with very heavy rainfall, pea size hail, and winds in excess of 40 mph. Slow down or delay travel if you are in the area! #azwx pic.twitter.com/m2aH8xhd4R— NWS Flagstaff (@NWSFlagstaff) July 18, 2021