Flooding a concern as melting snow runs off northern Arizona's burn scars

By Michel Marizco
Published: Monday, March 27, 2023 - 9:25am
Updated: Monday, March 27, 2023 - 9:27am

Flagstaff area road will be closed for months after it collapsed
Michel Marizco/KJZZ
A Flagstaff-area road will be closed for months after it collapsed while a school bus drove over it during the winter flooding.

Flooding in Coconino County has happened after major wildfires and after melting rains fall on massive snow buildups. This time, the concern is from both.

Last year’s Pipeline Fire burned through 36 square miles of the Coconino National Forest. And then a very wet monsoon season cascaded down its burn scar, the charred footprint left behind. It flooded nearly 50 times last summer, especially northeast of Flagstaff and east of the San Francisco Peaks.

Slayton Ranch Road in Flagstaff
Michel Marizco/KJZZ
Slayton Ranch Road in Flagstaff will be closed for two to three months and costs to repair will near $1 million.

This time, the concern is about six miles south of that where the Rio De Flag River crosses the city. 

"It’s advantageous that the type of rain or snow events that we’ve seen in this snow has not been in such a condition to cause as much of a catastrophic event that we saw this last monsoon season," said county Public Works Director Christopher Tressler. 

A winter storm is expected to fall on Northern Arizona again by Wednesday. At 159 inches so far, Flagstaff hasn’t seen this much snow in more than 40 years. 

Mud washouts
Michel Marizco/KJZZ
Mud washouts are forming throughout Coconino County in March 2023.

Fronteras Wildfires