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Sunflower Fire Decision Support Web Page
The National Weather Service, in partnership with local, county, and state officials, have developed a list of weather resources for those affected by the May 2012 Sunflower wildfire. The threat of Flash Flooding along Sycamore Creek is extremely high due to the severity of the burn site. Monitor this web page for the most up to date weather information.

Increased risk of flash flooding and debris flows
as a result of the Sunflower Fire

In the aftermath of the Sunflower Fire, locations downhill and downstream of the burned area are now more susceptible to flash flooding and debris flows if and when storms move over the area.

A brief period of moderate rainfall is normally absorbed into the soil. But after a fire, the rain quickly runs off because the vegetation has been charred or destroyed, and severely burned soils act like pavement and repel the water. As a result, runoff from storms will be greater, with a heightened risk for flash flooding.

Water flowing down steep hilly terrain can transport large amounts of ash, sand, silt, rocks and vegetation debris, and suddenly flow over the banks of creeks and washes. The force of the water and accumulated debris can damage or destroy culverts and buildings, inundate roadways and bridged crossings, and potentially increase the risk of injury or death to people in the area.

The Sunflower Fire severely burned a significant portion of the Sycamore Creek watershed. Once rain begins, as little as 10 to 15 minutes of moderate to heavy rainfall will produce flash flooding and debris flows. These flows will quickly impact the residents of Sunflower, especially those living or working in close proximity to Sycamore Creek.

A significant flow of water and debris in Sycamore Creek may travel as far as 15 to 20 miles south of the community of Sunflower, inundating low water crossings of many forest roads. Heightened flow may persist in Sycamore Creek for hours after the rain stops.

In the event of moderate to heavy rainfall, do not wait for a flash flood warning in order to take steps to protect life and property. Thunderstorms that develop over the burned area may begin to produce runoff and flooding before a warning can be issued. If you are in the area vulnerable to flooding and debris flows, plan in advance. There will be very little time to react once the storms and rain start.

Heed the advice and recommendations from local law enforcement officials pertaining to road closures and any evacuation plans.

Monitor NOAA weather radio for all forecasts and statements and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.

Progression diagram

Sunflower burning

Sycamore Creek
Any trails, dry washes, or camping areas around Sycamore Creek south of the Burn Area shown above will be susceptible to flooding and debris flows throughout the Monsoon season. It will not take much rain to cause problems downstream of the Burn Area. It may not even be raining across locations south of Sunflower, yet those areas may still experience sudden Flash Flooding. At the first signs of thunderstorms in the immediate area, persons should plan to move to higher ground and away from Sycamore Creek.

US Dept of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Weather Service
Phoenix Weather Forecast Office
P.O. Box 52025
Phoenix, AZ 85072

Tel: (602) 275-0073

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