SIERRA VISTA — Heavy winds and nonstop rain drenched Cochise County over the holiday, leaving a string of flooded roads, stuck vehicles, toppled trees and a rockslide along Highway 80 near the Mule Pass Tunnel Thursday and Friday, officials said.
Aside from the debris of leaves and branches scattered about front yards and streets Friday morning as the rain and wind began to subside, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office warned motorists to be especially cautious of flooded roads.
“We want to make sure people are aware,” Cochise County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said Friday morning. “There are some downed trees and flooding.”
One of the downed trees landed in the front yard of a house at the 2100 block of Longview Drive. Jim Sims said he woke up and saw the “50- to 60-foot” tree lying on its side. He said he’s never experienced anything like that.
As the upper level disturbance that affected California and Arizona began to move out Friday afternoon, rain total showed the Hereford area was soaked with 1.22 inches of rain between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., said Chris Rasmussen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tucson. An area near Huachuca City was hit with 1.87 inches and Carr Canyon received 1.53 inches, he added. Carr Canyon Road off State Road 92 and Hereford Road at the San Pedro River Bridge was closed.
Rasmussen said another front would sweep through Cochise County in the middle of next week — bringing with it valley rain and mountain snow — but it will not be as strong as this last one. He said the upper level disturbance that sparked this week’s weather event also left its mark in California.
“It was moving west to east and we were on the southern edge of it,” Rasmussen said Friday. “It’s been wreaking havoc in the desert southwest.”
Friday morning brought some “hardy” winds to Bisbee and Miracle Valley, Rasmussen said, with gusts at 75 and 78 miles per hour, respectively.
While the weather seemed to be calming somewhat Friday afternoon, 81-year-old Judy Walraven heard a loud crash outside her residence on Sherbundy Street and North Avenue in Sierra Vista. A large tree came down in her front yard, its base and roots buckling a portion of the sidewalk along North.
Walraven said she has been in the house for 50 years. She said she called police and the city.
“It’s just me and my son and all we have is an axe,” Walraven said.
Trees weren’t the only things that were falling.
On Thanksgiving morning, Capas said the rain prompted a rock slide on State Route 80, just west of the Mule Pass Tunnel. Only one lane was open for hours and there was at least one report of a boulder in the road at mile marker 336 after 9 p.m. Thursday.
Sierra Vista Police Corporal Scott Borgstadt said there were no road closures in Sierra Vista Friday morning, however wind and rain destroyed a tent set up for Christmas tree sales on SR92. The wind ripped the tent from its metal frame and several Christmas trees were strewn about.
“It was a mess,” Borgstadt said.