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The Arizona Flood of January 1993

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Date:

January 5-19, 1993

Clean-up efforts continued for a period of time, but the efforts to improve the flood hazards in the region continued until 1996. After the 1993 floods, Arizona sought to improve its flood safety. You can see a before and after shot of the Santa Cruz River during the 1993 flood and the 2005 improvements in this video from the USGS.

Location:

Southeast Arizona was the location for the flooding. Most major waterways were flooded including the Gila, Santa Cruz, and Salt Rivers.

Type of Flood:

The flooding in Arizona was a regional flood event. The flood covered a large land area as a result of excess rain.

Causes:

The cause of the flooding was excess rain. Precipitation patterns in the region extended for at least several months causing the swelling rivers to crest. The flooding was so widespread that it is considered one of the worst floods of the 20th Century.

During the winter of 1992-1993, a particularly strong El Nino event was present in the Pacific Ocean. Sea Surface temperatures were abnormally high and caused excess winter precipitation all over the Southwest.In Arizona, at least 16 separate storm events hit. Runoff from snow melt in the Santa Catalina Mountains was also a contributing factor.

Cost:

There were significant damages to buildings and structures in the floods. According to the Arizona Geological Survey, virtually no physiographic region in Arizona was unaffected by the flooding. Damages added up to at least $400 million.

Fatalities:

Though no deaths were reported in many locations, including Pima County, but the official tally from the USGS is "unknown". There were fatalities statewide, but the number remains unsubstantiated

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