The Arizona Republic

Spring to begin with rain, flood warnings

- Laura Daniella Sepulveda and Sydney Carruth

Spring is kicking off this year with flood warnings, heavy rainfall, strong winds and chilly temperatur­es across Arizona.

According to the National Weather Service, flood warnings were in effect for several recreation­al spots and water crossings in Maricopa and Gila counties.

Tuesday marks the official first day of spring.

This year, it will come with overnight rains, strong winds and snowfall that will persist through the weekend.

High water from rain and snowmelt in the Salt and Verde rivers are creating dangerous conditions until 5 p.m. on Saturday in parts of Maricopa County.

The same problem along Tonto Creek is prompting caution until noon Saturday in Gila County, the weather service said.

Meteorolog­ist Ben Benedict with the weather service in Phoenix also advised residents to take caution.

“Please heed to warnings that are issued. Do not attempt to cross any flooded washes or rivers,” Benedict said.

“It’s been very dangerous, it’s been a lot of water rescues that we’ve already seen, and they may continue if people are not careful,’ Benedict added.

On Saturday morning, an 81-year-old man died in Salt River in Mesa after he fell out of his kayak and drowned, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Office.

Later that day, a family also kayaking in the river had to be airlifted by emergency crews after their kayak capsized.

A different family was also rescued from Oak Creek on Friday after their truck got stuck amid rising water, the sheriff ’s office said.

Metro Phoenix to see rain, strong winds, chilly temperatur­es

According to Benedict, a cold front rolling through the state will also bring thundersto­rms and breezy conditions that will peak in the middle of the week and persist through the beginning of next week.

Benedict said moisture and rain will peak overnight Tuesday in Phoenix. Residents can expect wind gusts up to 40 mph and much cooler temperatur­es starting Wednesday with highs in the low to mid-60s.

Chilly weather will stay around for quite a bit, Benedict said. Normal temperatur­es for this time of the year usually reach the 80s, but this time they will remain in the 70s for the next week and a half, he explained.

Winter storm to bring snow, high rainfall in Flagstaff

The northern areas of the state will see high rainfall, snow showers and more moisture this week.

The weather service in Flagstaff issued a winter storm warning for areas along the Kaibab Plateau and a winter weather advisory in effect through 2 p.m. Tuesday along the Chuska Mountains and Black Mesa.

Flagstaff residents can expect snowfall and wind gusts of up to 45 mph starting Tuesday, according to the weather service.

Benedict said Flagstaff weather will be cooling down, with highs dipping into the 30s and lows dropping into the teens starting Thursday.

Travelers will see hazardous road conditions due to snow. More rainfall in the middle week will bring more snowmelt and enhanced flooding, the weather service said.

“We’re going to continue to see those elevated water levels, and it can be hazardous for recreation as well as for traveling through water crossings,” Benedict said.

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