443 Coordinated Response to Post-Wildfire Flooding: The Goodwin Fire in Yavapai County, Arizona

Tuesday, 8 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Andrew A. Taylor, NOAA/NWS, Bellemont, AZ; and T. Steffen, M. Massis, J. D. Suk, and M. Schaffner

The Goodwin Fire started in the mountains south of Prescott, Arizona on the afternoon of 24 June 2017. The wildfire burned approximately 20,000 acres (8100 ha) on 28 June, with a final area burned of 28,500 acres (11500 ha). Following the fire, Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team assessments placed much of the fire area at moderate to high burn severity. The Yavapai County Flood Control District (YCFCD) placed three new precipitation gauges in some of the most sensitive drainages of the fire scar. An existing stream gauge within Big Bug Creek at the State Route 69 bridge in the community of Mayer was outfitted with a Radar Level sensor in anticipation of debris flows. Each gauge has the capability to send alerts when threshold values are reached. YCFCD proactively coordinated with the Flagstaff Weather Forecast Office (WFO) on setting rainfall and stream gauge thresholds, as well as determining which locations could be threatened by high water and debris from a major event on Big Bug Creek. On the evening of 19 July 2017, rainfall of 1-2 inches (25 - 51 mm) in 30 minutes over several sensitive drainages in the northern portion of the Goodwin scar led to substantial flooding of Big Bug Creek as the gauge in Mayer reached a stage of 9.6 feet (293 cm). Several families were rescued from their homes, with several mobile homes suffering flood damage. Participation by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) was critical in communications, evacuations, and road closures during this and other events.

The scar saw little recovery due to the dry 2017-18 winter in Arizona. The gauge network is still in place today, with alerts from the precipitation gauges combined with radar-based precipitation estimate thresholds triggering issuance of a Flash Flood Warning and calls to YCFCD/Yavapai County Emergency Management.

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