Flash floods in the American Southwest in recent days have closed parts of national parks including Moab and Zion, shut down highways in Colorado, submerged cars in Texas and stranded tourists in a New Mexico cave. A young woman was swept away while hiking in Zion on Friday.
But experts say the devastating floods are not enough to offset drought and continued pressure on water resources. Even the strongest storms cannot overcome dry conditions decades in the making.
Summer monsoons are a natural feature of the Southwest, and dry landscapes can usually rely on this annual relief, but the intensity between wet and dry extremes is increasing. Scientists predict that as the world warms, its effects will worsen.
“There is a duality in the effect of climate change on the hydrologic cycle,” said Dr. Andrew Hall, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Physical Sciences Laboratory, noting that extreme rainfall and baseline drought conditions exist at separate times. Scales. It will take a prolonged rainy season to break the conditions during the cold winter months and forecasts do not hold much hope for the coming months. Dry soils are less able to absorb additional moisture during severe storms.
“We are already in a very difficult spot with low water reserves in our lakes and reservoirs,” he said, adding, “It looks like we got a small and temporary reprieve because of some active monsoon.”
The rains have caused widespread destruction and put people at risk.
Authorities have been searching for days for Jedal Agnihotri, 29, of Tucson, who was reportedly swept away by floodwaters in Utah’s Zion National Park.
“Our search and rescue efforts are ongoing,” said Jonathan Shafer, a park spokesman. “We have searchers back today, and we’re working closely with the National Weather Service to monitor the forecast, and we’re going to be paying close attention to that going forward.”
Agnihotri was there Among the many hikers swept off their feet Water flowed Friday afternoon in the popular Narrows area of the park, known for its spectacular red-rock cliffs and narrow canyons in southern Utah near the Arizona border. The riverside walk and narrows are closed.
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, officials at Carlsbad Caverns National Park said about 150 tourists were evacuated Saturday night after they were stranded by rising waters. Park officials told people at the visitor center to wait for several hours due to flash flooding. In Arizona, on Friday, emergency crews rescued four hikers stranded in Sabino Canyon east of Tucson and helped 41 students and staff from school buses stuck in high water as storms moved in.
The slow-moving storm dumped unprecedented rain on the Dallas-Fort Worth area, prompting rescue efforts from rising waters. A state of emergency was declared for Dallas County Monday evening The amount of rain that usually falls in one day during the entire summer season.
Texas authorities say an unidentified woman has died after being pulled from the ocean by storm surges. The incident remains under investigation, but first responders said they believe he died after his car was swept into a flooded road.
Heavy storms have wreaked havoc in the region Major flash floods From Death Valley earlier this month and pushed The Navajo Nation is about to declare a state of emergency. Parts of Yellowstone National Park are still recovering from multimillion-dollar destruction caused by record rainfall in June, and debris flows have left New Mexico residents reeling from early devastating wildfires. A second exit is required In mere months.
But along with the damage, the rain has also had some welcome effects. “After a long period of severe drought, heavy rains have spurred widespread improvement in monsoon-affected areas,” says a recent U.S. Drought The observational summary stated. Levels in stagnant Lake Mead rose by 2 feet over the weekend. While those precious inches are reassuring, the reservoir is only 27% full and is in danger of hitting the point where it can no longer generate hydroelectricity.
Although the south-west monsoon is heavy, More than half of the American West is classified as in “severe drought.” by the US Drought Monitor.
Calling the drought a waterfall risk, Hole cautioned that these rains will not spell the end of the dry season, especially as forecasts show little hope for a badly needed wet winter.
“People in this region may see an increase in water levels and reduce their security,” he said. “Just because we have a couple of weeks or two months of good rainfall in summer does not necessarily mean that the lake level will return to average,” he added. “We’re still in the midst of a major drought.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report