“The stage is set for Southern Arizona and New Mexico to receive potentially abundant rainfall and widespread flash flooding today,” as a low-pressure system brings moist, tropical air to the southwest in the form of heavy rain and thunderstorms to add to the already active monsoon season across the region, the Weather Prediction Center said early Saturday morning.
Widespread rainfall totals of 2 to 3 inches, with locally higher totals of 5 to 7 inches, are forecast across the region – giving the WPC a level 3 out of 4 “moderate” risk for excessive rainfall ahead of the wet forecast. That could mean widespread flash flooding in the Southwest.
On Saturday, the search and rescue for a missing person continued in Utah’s Zion National Park after a flash flood on the Virgin River, according to a tweet from the national park.
Rangers were warned that hikers were “wiped off their feet” near the Sinawava temple Friday afternoon, Zion National Park spokesman Jonathan Shafer said. There are some hikers located.
“Park rangers found an injured hiker pulled several hundred feet downstream,” Shafer said. The injured hiker was taken to a hospital, Shafer said. The condition of the hiker is unknown.
Flash flooding in Zion National Park this weekend has been linked to rain from the same system hitting the Southwest.
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“Urban locations, in addition to areas with complex terrain, are especially vulnerable to flash flooding and can quickly turn into very dangerous situations,” said the WPC, arroyos and burn scars.
The plume of moisture and heavy rain is expected to move into northern Texas from Sunday to Monday — where a Level 2 out of 4 “slight risk” for excessive rainfall has been issued. Rainfall of nearly 2 to 3 inches per hour is possible, according to the WPC.
“Urban areas will be most vulnerable to flooding during the period, even with the extremely dry, drought conditions.”
More than 90% of the state of Texas is currently experiencing drought, with nearly 62% experiencing extreme or exceptional drought — the highest categories.
Potential tropical cyclone four for heavy rainfall
Potential tropical cyclone four has formed over the western Gulf of Mexico, with sustained winds of 35 mph, according to an 11-hour update from the National Hurricane Center. It was located about 165 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande.
The hurricane center uses the potential tropical cyclone designation to provide warnings for a system before it actually gets a name.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Mexico’s Gulf Coast from Boca de Catan north to the mouth of the Rio Grande — and across the lower Texas coast, from Port Mansfield south to the mouth of the Rio Grande. Tropical storms are expected in these regions for the next 12 to 24 hours as the system approaches the coast.
The system is expected to reach the coast of northeastern Mexico late Saturday afternoon, pushing inland through Sunday.
There is still uncertainty about whether the system will strengthen enough to become a named storm before making landfall. If so, it will be named Danielle.
An advisory from the National Hurricane Center at 11 a.m. said “the probability of the outage” [Potential Tropical Cyclone Four] becoming a tropical cyclone appears to be easing.” The storm is close to shore and may not have enough time to strengthen before moving inland.
PTC Four still remains disorganized over the Gulf of Mexico and has no defined center at or near the surface, according to recent data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunters.
Still, heavy rain of 1 to 3 inches, with isolated totals up to 5 inches, is forecast in parts of Texas and Mexico over the next 48 hours, potentially leading to localized flooding.
“Regardless of the status of the system, the overall effects are expected to be the same,” the NHC said. “Winds to tropical gale force and heavy rainfall are expected to spread across northeastern Mexico and southern Texas later today and continue through Sunday.”
The system is expected to weaken soon after moving inland, eventually dissipating over South Texas overnight.
Ray Sanchez, Rebekah Riess, Paradise Afshar of CNN contributed to this report.