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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
2:59 AM Wed, Dec. 12th

Widespread rains prompt end to fire ban

PRESCOTT – Yavapai County officials lifted their fire-use ban Monday after widespread rain fell throughout the county over the weekend.

The ban covered campfires, charcoal barbecues and other open fires on private unincorporated lands throughout the county.

The Prescott National Forest and City of Prescott already had lifted their fire bans on Friday.

But county and some fire district officials wanted to wait until at least Monday, to see if good rains would hit lower-elevation areas where tall grass and weeds still were causing concern.

As if on cue, those rains came on Saturday and Sunday.

The Yavapai County Flood Control District recorded showers at nearly all its weather station sites last weekend for the first time during this monsoon season. All 55 of the operating sites recorded rain within the past week.

The rain has been a welcome sight after a late start to the monsoon season July 18. Prescott recorded only 1.15 inches of precipitation in July, which is 39.5 percent of the 107-year average of 2.91 inches. July usually is the second-wettest month of the year, behind August. Prescott also tied or broke six daily heat records during the third week of July.

Some examples of rainfall totals for the past week include 1.18 inches on Sierra Prieta in the pine forest just west of Prescott, 3.7 inches at the White Spar campground in the pine forest just south of Prescott, 0.98 inches at Watson Lake on the northeast side of Prescott, 1.57 inches in Prescott Valley, 1.38 inches in Chino Valley, 2.64 inches on Mingus Mountain in the pine forest northeast of Prescott Valley, 1.1 inches in Camp Verde, 1.06 inches in Cottonwood, 1.02 inches at Sedona, 1.85 inches at Hyde Mountain northwest of Paulden, and 0.51 inches at the Williamson Valley fire station.

The county doesn’t have any rain gauges anywhere south of Wilhoit and Mayer in areas such as Yarnell, Congress, Cordes Junction and Black Canyon City.

The Maricopa County Flood Control District does have some sites in southern Yavapai County, and it recorded 2.01 inches of rain between noon Sunday and noon Monday just east of Black Canyon City.

After the Cave Creek Complex burned more than 244,000 acres east and northeast of Black Canyon City in June and July, federal and Yavapai County officials agreed that it would be a good idea to install a rain gauge in the Agua Fria River watershed near Squaw Creek. The gauge would help warn BCC residents of possible heavy rains that could pick up burned soil and vegetation and then flow down into town to cause flooding.

The Flood Control District hoped to have the gauge installed as early as mid-July, but now is shooting for today at the earliest, hydrologist Mark Massis said. He’s not sure if he can get into the area because of the wet roads.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for southeastern Yavapai County on Saturday and Sunday, especially because of the large burned area. The warning included the Black Canyon City area.

Black Canyon City got some heavy rain but didn’t have any flooding problems, Chief Tom Birch said. Two low-water crossings were closed.

Birch said he’s been asking for a gauge on the Agua Fria for years, and one on Squaw Creek would be better than nothing.

The National Weather Service is alerting Yavapai County residents to remain alert for possible flash flooding throughout this week because of the possibility of daily thunderstorms in areas with already saturated soils.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com