Increase in monsoon flooding leads back to climate change and rise in heat

Experts said climate change and an increase in heat waves are leading to more flooding during monsoon.
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 3:26 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 14, 2022 at 4:40 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Experts said climate change and an increase in heat waves are leading to more flooding in southern Arizona during the monsoon.

It’s a lot like a domino effect.

Right now, we’re still in a megadrought and a lot of the soil is not absorbing all of the water from the rain we’re getting because it’s coming down all at once.

That’s leading to more flooding.

“Even though the overall average is about the same, we’re seeing much more intense weather events. so, you’ll get a lot of rain at one time, so that causes that runoff,” said Sara Amoit, a forest monitor and climate change coordinator for Coronado Nation Forest.

It all goes back to climate change, according to experts.

They said we are seeing extreme heat with heat waves more often, which is intensifying the megadrought Arizona is in. The heat will eventually lead to less precipitation during the monsoon.

“We’re seeing a gradual decline of precipitation over time for sure,” said Amoit. “Overall I think our averages from season to season when you compare them are usually about the same, but what happens is with a drought over time those soils can become slightly hydrophobic.”

She said even if the soil isn’t fully hydrophobic, it won’t retain water the same way it would if there was enough vegetation. A big area of concern when it comes to flooding is the burn scar from the Big Horn Fire.

But that’s not the only concern for the area.

“Something we’re concerned about, especially on Mt. Lemmon - it’s all connected to this climate change, monsoon season precipitation mechanism - is invasive species. When an area gets burned, sometimes what happens is invasive species will come in and we’re very vulnerable to that sort of domination of an invasive species,” she said.

Invasive species like buffelgrass lead to more widespread wildfires. And with those burn scars from the wildfires, once monsoon hits we can expect more flooding from the storms. When it comes to the burn scar, she says we are still at risk for flooding.

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