Airlift To Mogollon Cancelled, Supplies To Be Walked In

Sep 14, 2013

Dark Green = Flash Flood Watch, Bright Green = Flood Warning.
Credit National Weather Service

UPDATE 12p: A planned emergency airlift of food, water and other supplies for a tiny New Mexico town isolated after weekend flooding has been called off.

New Mexico Department of Homeland Security spokesman Estevan Lujan said Tuesday that state authorities and the National Guard will deliver supplies by foot to residents of the privately run ghost town of Mogollon. Lujan says there was not enough space to land a helicopter.

The small western New Mexico community and other parts of the state stayed on alert or assessed the aftermath of heavy rains that have fallen since last week.

State Route 159 became impassable after a creek along the highway surged from its banks.

Roughly 16 residents live in the former mining town in the mountains in Catron County.  

UPDATE 9/17 6a: Officials plan to airlift food and water to a tiny community in southwestern New Mexico that remains isolated after weekend flooding washed out the paved highway leading to it.

A spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez said emergency supplies are to be flown into Mogollon on Tuesday.

State Route 159 became impassable after a creek along the highway surged from its banks because of heavy rains.

Roughly 16 residents live in the former mining town in the mountains in Catron County.

Authorities plan to use a bulldozer to scrap out a makeshift road, which could be used by four-wheel drive vehicles. It's uncertain when the work will be completed.

Parts of the state could see relief from flooding as the forecast calls for diminishing chances of rain this week.

UPDATE 9/16 6a: State Police have identified a man who died after being swept away by flood waters while traveling through southern New Mexico's Sierra County.

State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said Sunday that the man was 53-year-old Steven Elsley of Phoenix.

Elsley's partially submerged rental car was found in a rugged area nearly a mile from a state road in Ash Canyon near Elephant Butte Dam. His body was inside.

Gutierrez says investigators believe Elsley died after his car was washed into a ravine and carried away.

Flood waters have breached dams, inundated homes, closed roads and forced evacuations.

Find localized rainfall measurements on the NWS Rain Event Map.

UPDATE 11a: Another round of rainfall is moving across New Mexico on Sunday, renewing the threat of heavy runoff from already saturated soils and flooding in low areas.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch through the evening for much of central and northern New Mexico.

The warning comes as the state begins to clean up after a week of record rainfall. Some areas received close to 10 inches of rain since the deluge started Tuesday.

Parts of Albuquerque have received more than four inches. The weather service says this marks the wettest September on record for the city.

State and local transportation officials also warned residents and travelers that some roads are closed due to the flooding. That includes N.M. 313 between Albuquerque and Bernalillo.

Officials in San Miguel County were expecting the Gallinas River to swell again Sunday afternoon.

UPDATE 9/15 10a: A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect across much of New Mexico until midnight according to the National Weather Service, with more rain expected today and tonight. The heaviest rainfall is predicted for the northern plains and East of the Central Mountain chain. Storms to the west of the mountains will likely dissipate more quickly.

Areas that have already received significant rainfall in recent days will be more susceptible to flash floods as will the burn scars from recent wildfires. 

Find localized rainfall measurements on the NWS Rain Event Map.


A flood warning for New Mexico's largest city has been canceled as water levels for Rio Grande slow.

The National Weather Service said Saturday that the river is expected to crest at 6.5 feet. Flood stage is at 8 feet.

A day after parts of the state saw "life threatening" floods, Albuquerque officials were worried that runoff water in the Rio Grande could cause the river's level to rise up to 12 feet above normal. That would result in potential bosque flooding throughout the city and Bernalillo County.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is scheduled Saturday to outline details and possible emergency plans.

City officials have reopened bosque trials around the Rio Grande.

Some residents in Las Vegas and Truth or Consequence were ordered to evacuate Friday due to flooding.