Wednesday’s Downpour Spurs Back Road Flash Flood

Looking down from Omega Bridge, a grader and front end loader work on West Road near the Ice Rink to clear debris from the flash flood Wednesday evening. The creek coming down Los Alamos Canyon from the Reservoir becomes a raging torrent that uses the roadway as a streambed in flash-flood conditions. Clean up from that flash flood got underway quickly on N.M. 501 (Back Road) following Wednesday’s downpour. Steve Stoddard of Los Alamos reported that he was returning from an excursion in the Jemez about 6 p.m. and found the Back Road closed due to debris. Stoddard had to detour through White Rock to get home and said that rain water was coming off the mountainside in “sheets” at the hairpin curve coming down the mountain to the N.M. 501/N.M. 4 intersection at the back gate. Photo by TK Thompson/

Along with rocks and logs, the debris spilling onto N.M. 501 was a dirty grey color from leftover ash from the Los Conchas Fire last summer. Los Alamos National Laboratory personnel estimated about 0.4″ of rain fell at Water Canyon and up to 4 inches fell on the top of the mountains. Photo by TK Thompson/

Concrete Jersey Barriers at the Ice Rink parking lot are visible above the front end loader, appearing as diagonal parallel lines in the pine trees. These barriers have been stacked three high and back-filled with dirt and rocks to provide a protective dam in the rink parking lot, which worked last year to protect the rink from flash-floods and it worked again Wednesday evening following a torrential downpour that flooded nearby areas. Photo by TK Thompson/

The new culvert at Water Canyon handled the storm water runoff Wednesday evening. The water did not cross over the highway at this point. Photo by TK Thompson/

Residual storm water along N.M. 501 lingers Thursday morning from Wednesday’s downpour. This location was about midway between Canyon el Valle and Parajito Canyon. Storm water flowed across the road at this point and filled the old pond on the lab side east of the Back Road. Photo by TK Thompson/

Concrete “lego blocks” form a retaining wall to prevent storm water erosion on the north side of Water Canyon on the east side of N.M. 501. Photo by TK Thompson/

West Road down to the Ice Rink in Los Alamos Canyon was closed Thursday for debris removal. Photo by TK Thompson/

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