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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Impact of Recent Extreme Arizona Storms )

Author
item Magirl, C.
item Webb, R.
item Schaffner, M.
item Lyon, S.
item Griffiths, P.
item Shoemaker, C.
item Unkrich, Carl
item Yatheendrades, S.
item Troch, P.
item Pytlak, E.
item Goodrich, David - Dave
item Desilets, S.
item Youberg, A.
item Pearthree, P.

Submitted to: Trans American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2007
Publication Date: 10/1/2007
Citation: Magirl, C.S., Webb, R.H., Schaffner, M., Lyon, S.W., Griffiths, P.G., Shoemaker, C., Unkrich, C.L., Yatheendrades, S., Troch, P.A., Pytlak, E., Goodrich, D.C., Desilets, S.L., Youberg, A., Pearthree, P.A. 2007. Impact of Recent Extreme Arizona Storms. EOS 88(17): 191-193.

Interpretive Summary: Heavy rainfall on July 27-31, 2006, led to record flooding and an unprecedented outbreak of debris flows in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona. At least 240 hillslope failures spawned debris flows in an area where no more than 10 had been documented historically. More than 18 debris flows destroyed infrastructure in the heavily used Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. In three adjacent canyons, debris flows reached the heads of alluvial fans on the edge of the Tucson metropolitan area. While land-use planners and water-resource managers in southeastern Arizona evaluate the potential of this previously-discounted hazard to development along the mountain front, an interdisciplinary group of scientists has collaborated to better understand this extreme event. The study describes the results of these extreme events and it was also found that a watershed model developed by the ARS was successful in simulating record runoff event with high-quality ground-based rainfall data. However, more research is needed to understand the hazard from debris-flow activity in southeastern Arizona, especially with respect to the frequency of debris-flows and excessive sedimentation, which may compromise flood-control structures designed without accommodation for rapid channel filling.

Technical Abstract: Heavy rainfall on July 27-31, 2006, led to record flooding and an unprecedented outbreak of debris flows in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) documented floods of record at six streamflow gages in the Tucson basin, and at least 240 hillslope failures spawned debris flows in an area where no more than 10 had been documented historically. More than 18 debris flows destroyed infrastructure in the heavily used Sabino Canyon Recreation Area (http://wwwpaztcn.wr.usgs.gov/ Santa_Catalina_Debris_Flows.pdf). In three adjacent canyons, debris flows reached the heads of alluvial fans on the edge of the Tucson metropolitan area. While land-use planners and water-resource managers in southeastern Arizona evaluate the potential of this previously-discounted hazard to development along the mountain front, an interdisciplinary group of scientists has collaborated to better understand this extreme event.

Last Modified: 8/24/2016
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