There was a heavy downpour on Wednesday, July 19.
Like many Sedona residents, I watched the buildup of towering black storm clouds east of Schnebly Hill Road in the late afternoon and had just stepped into my house in West Sedona when the storm hit and it was furious with rain falling at a 45-degree angle, completely obscuring my views of Airport Mesa, Capital Butte and Cathedral Rock, which I can usually see from my living room, as well as neighbors’ homes.
After the storm, Assistant Managing Editor Ron Eland and production assistant Jan Marc Quisumbing both shot photos of water and debris spread across local roads. Eland also posted a video on our Facebook page of flooding at Back O’ Beyond Road that has been viewed by several thousand users and shared more than a hundred times.
The clearing storm, however, did provide an amazing splash of reds and purples in the clouds to the north and west as the sun set over Mingus Mountain. Such is the wonder of the Arizona monsoon, which is now in full swing and will continue through September.
The Sedona Fire District and Coconino County Emergency Management will conduct the annual test the emergency siren system in Oak Creek Canyon around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 26. This test generally lasts for about 10 minutes.
Its purpose is to notify residents and visitors in Oak Creek Canyon and Uptown that a severe flash flood is impending and to immediately seek higher ground or, if living in a low-lying area, to make preparations for evacuation.
The annual test makes sure that the sirens are in perfect working order and can be heard in the canyon from the switchbacks to Midgley Bridge and often by those of us who work or live in Uptown near State Route 89A. Oak Creek Canyon is shallow and narrow with several crossings that are just barely above where the average water level, so heavy precipitation upstream can build quickly and hit areas downstream — even areas that haven’t seen a drop of rain for hours — in just a matter of minutes.
If you plan to spend time in the canyon and see clouds rolling in, check the National Weather Service website before heading out. If you do hear the sirens sound in the canyon or near Oak Creek this summer, immediately stop what you are doing and head to high ground. If you have access to a radio, tune to KAFF 930 AM or 92.9 FM for specific directions about what to do next and when the immediate threat has passed.
Also be aware than if you are on one side of the creek when the siren sounds, you may be stuck on that side for some time. Do not try to cross, but instead seek shelter or call for help on your cell phone.