When you see a flooded intersection, turn around!

When you see a flooded intersection, turn around!


When you see a flooded intersection, turn around!

When you see a flooded intersection, turn around!

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
August 10, 2021

It’s raining and you’re almost home.

You are about to turn onto a road near your house, when you come to a halt.

There’s storm runoff in the intersection. It looks like a shallow stream.

Should you cross?  

Remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!

No matter how tired you are, how badly you want to relax or how hungry you are for dinner, there is no creature comfort – or work or family emergency – worth drowning over.  

Nearly half of all flood-related drownings occur when motorists attempt to cross a flooded road and are instead swept downstream, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's not worth risking it. It’s easy to underestimate the force and power of water. It takes just 12 inches of water to carry away your vehicle.

Unless you want to risk paying steep fines in addition to risking your life, don’t drive around a “Road Closed” sign. It’s against the law.

If you survive, you may be cited and ordered to shell out up to $2,000 to any entity that incurs expenses rescuing you. After all, you were warned. 

Here are some other tips from the National Weather Service

* Monitor a news source for vital weather related information.
* Check the AZ511 and ADOT Alerts maps for weather-related road information.
* If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, drainage ditches, canyons, washes etc.
* Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. 
* Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. 
* Do not camp or park along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions. Creeks and streams can rise very rapidly during heavy rainfall.
* Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

The bottom line: Flood waters are nothing to mess with. It's worth taking a few more minutes to switch your route and avoid driving in running water. It may take longer, but you will reach your destination safely. And maybe get there in time for dinner.   

You can find other rain safety tips on the severe weather page of our website. There’s even more safety advice at azdot.gov/monsoon and PullAsideStayAlive.org.

Here are a few recent ADOT posts about monsoon safety: Get your vehicle in monsoon shapeADOT ready to respond after wildfires and After wildfires, be wary of storm runoff.

And, finally, here's a quiz to test your monsoon knowledge: How well do you know monsoons?

ADOT ready for potential flooding following wildfires

ADOT ready for potential flooding following wildfires


ADOT ready for potential flooding following wildfires

ADOT ready for potential flooding following wildfires

By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications
August 27, 2020

After the Bush Fire was contained and put out, ADOT began to do its evaluation of the damage. In addition to more than 11 miles of guardrail and right-of-way fence damage along SR 87 and SR 188, south of Payson, the land itself was damaged with a lot of the vegetation burned up as fuel for the fire. 

This left the area more susceptible to flooding in the event of monsoon storms. 

Realizing this possibility, ADOT reached out to the National Weather Service and began to develop an emergency action plan that could help cut response times in the event of flooding in the area. 

The plan, which helps fulfill ADOT’s initiatives in the Pathfinder Program with the Federal Highway Administration, will go into effect when a monsoon storm approaches the area just south of Payson. The National Weather Service will contact ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center to advise them of the potential for rain in the area. The TOC will then dispatch maintenance crews to pre-stage equipment such as loaders, skid-steers and backhoes as well as other equipment like barriers and portable message boards.

This emergency plan was put into action in late July when a mudslide occurred on SR 188. Crews were able to respond quickly and close the road. The heavy equipment they rolled out was able to clear the road of mud. See the photos of our crews working to clear the highway.

The Pathfinder Program came about through FHWA’s Every Day Counts innovation recognition program. It’s designed to keep travelers informed and improve safety, mobility and the movement of goods during storms that impact highways, through enhanced collaboration between FHWA, the National Weather Service, state DOTs and other stakeholders.

You can find more information on the program by going to highways.dot.gov and searching Pathfinder.

Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A

Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A


Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A

Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
August 10, 2020

House Rock Flood Repair_US89A

US 89A, an 87-mile stretch between Bitter Springs to Fredonia in far northern Arizona, provides jaw-dropping views of spectacular vistas amid iconic rugged landscape.

It is known for Jacob Lake, gateway to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon and a spectacular run beneath the Vermilion Cliffs.

But five years ago, a monster monsoon storm severely damaged 24 miles of the highway. What happened next was a chapter in Arizona Department of Transportation history that shows how quick action, preparedness and cooperation with the private and public sectors rebuilt what is probably the most photographed road in the state.  

It was on Aug. 9, 2015, that a powerful storm dropped nearly 1.5 inches of rain in just 15 minutes on an area that included US 89A. The resulting House Rock Flood carried monster rocks to the highway from the Vermilion Cliffs two miles away and dumped mud everywhere.

“When Arizona Department of Transportation crews arrived on that day in August 2015, what they saw stopped their bulldozers in their tracks: boulders the size of elephants  – 15 feet in diameter – and mud in seven different slides that covered portions of 24 miles of the only road across a wide area north of the Grand Canyon,” ADOT said in a press release. You can see some of that damage for yourself in this slideshow.

The enormity of the disaster prompted Governor Doug Ducey to issue a Declaration of Emergency to allow ADOT to seek approximately $2 million in federal emergency funding to cover the initial costs to reopen the highway as well as long-term repairs, according to another release from the time.

Both the biggest challenge and reward involved getting rid of those mammoth boulders fast enough to reopen US 89A within 24 hours.

“To break up the boulders, ADOT used Boulder Busters,” we wrote in a blog at the time. “These are explosive cartridges that look like 12-gauge shotgun shells but have a thicker rim that would prevent them from being used in a shotgun. Crews drill a hole in a boulder, fill it with fluid, insert one to three shells and trigger an explosion."

That blog even included a little spoof to go with the clearing work. Do you remember the “Ghostbusters” film theme song?

If there’s something strange sitting in your road
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)
15 feet tall
In the northbound lane
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)

US 89A received a makeover to beat all makeovers. The work was so exemplary that ADOT and contractor S.J. Anderson Co. of Mesa received the 2015 Harry H. Mellon Award of Excellence Winner in Job Order Contracting for the US 89A House Rock Flash Flood Project.

“Even with the challenges of a huge task in a remote location, the US 89A repairs were completed in just 53 days, with ADOT providing on-site inspection. The contractor mobilized within days of proposal acceptance, bringing crews and equipment from around the Southwest,” according to the release about the award. 

Tons of stone blocking your path
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)
Can’t make your way
To Jacob Lake
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)

I ain’t afraid of no rocks.

Does that used car pass the smell test?

Does that used car pass the smell test?


Does that used car pass the smell test?

Does that used car pass the smell test?

September 14, 2017

"Does the vehicle pass the smell test?" Infographic

By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications

Many vehicles wound up submerged in floodwaters from hurricanes that struck Texas and Florida. Unfortunately, some of those vehicles will find their way to other states, including Arizona, where sellers will fraudulently present them to would-be buyers as anything but flood-damaged. As we shared this week, the title for such a vehicle should say it's been in a flood, but scammers can and do find ways around that.

Doing research on used vehicles can save you major headaches. Following your nose can help lead you away from buying a car that spent time underwater.

First, check out all of the vehicle’s nooks and crannies. Look inside under the carpet and floor mats and examine the trunk for dirt, silt and mold. Check under the dashboard and other hard-to-reach places as well. Criminals usually don’t clean all of those places. Finally, take a good whiff in those areas. Water damage leaves a distinctive smell.

Check the electrical and mechanical components. Water wreaks havoc on electrical systems, so check to see if any of those systems aren’t working quite right. Also check the engine for signs of rust or even random new parts. Get under the vehicle and check the suspension for water damage. Any of those things could be a sign that you’re in danger of buying a flood-damaged vehicle.

When it comes to buying any used vehicle in a private sale, it’s important to take the time and ask lots of questions. There are no dumb questions in a big purchase like this. If the seller is acting suspiciously, being evasive or uncooperative, walk away. Take the time to find the right purchase.

Here are some additional tools to help you in purchasing that used vehicle:

ADOT also has a handy car-buying checklist you may use as a guide when you find that perfect new-to-you vehicle.

ADOT begins repairs along US 89A following heavy rainfall

ADOT begins repairs along US 89A following heavy rainfall


ADOT begins repairs along US 89A following heavy rainfall

ADOT begins repairs along US 89A following heavy rainfall

August 19, 2015
House Rock Flood Repair_US89A

After heavy rainfall on Aug. 9 blanketed miles of US 89A between Marble Canyon and Jacob’s Lake with mud and boulders, ADOT has been working swiftly to restore the highway to its previous condition.

If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter or check out the ADOT home page every once in a while, you might already know that ADOT has started repairs along US 89A following a massive rainfall on Aug. 9…

As you can see in the photos at right, the rain (approximately one-and-a-half inches of precipitation in less than 20 minutes, according to the National Weather Service) caused quite a bit of flooding on the stretch of US 89A, between Marble Canyon and Jacob’s Lake.

Crews were very busy last week clearing the mud and debris that collected on the roadway and in box culverts underneath the roadway to prevent possible damage during future storms.

The crews, aided by heavy equipment including an excavator and road graders, removed some boulders that were as large as 15 feet in diameter that traveled approximately two miles from the Vermillion Cliffs!

Right now, less than one-half mile of US 89A is restricted to one-way traffic at milepost 551, approximately 12 miles west of Marble Canyon. Due to the remote location and low traffic volumes, there have little to no delays in this area.

Engineers have completed their assessment and while there is no major damage to the infrastructure, there are some significant repairs that need to be completed before the highway can fully reopen.

Prior to re-establishing two lanes of traffic at this location, ADOT will repair three box culvert structures and drainage channels that allow flood waters to safely pass underneath the roadway and perform additional roadway/pavement work.

ADOT is currently pursuing a contractor to work on the repairs. At this time, there is no estimate for when the repairs will be completed, but we will keep drivers updated through our website and social media channels.

ADOT continues to monitor roadways during today's storm

ADOT continues to monitor roadways during today's storm

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT continues to monitor roadways during today's storm

ADOT continues to monitor roadways during today's storm

September 9, 2013

PHOENIX – Pumps along Valley freeways have been working hard to clear a tremendous amount of rainfall that fell during a short amount of time this afternoon, after a major storm hit many parts of the Valley and other parts of the state.

Overall, the drainage system and pump stations worked well to clear all the water quickly, while maintenance crews responded to areas of concern. As drivers head into rush hour this afternoon, there are still a few areas that motorists need to look out for.

Interstate 17 in the north Valley received a tremendous amount of rain. At this hour, portions of Deer Valley Road, Bell Road and Greenway Road are closed under the freeway due to flooding. The exits at Greenway Road are also closed. I-17 is open to drivers.

Other areas of the state have also seen flooding, including:

  • State Route 71 is closed in both directions approximately one mile south of US 93.
  • State Route 386 is closed in both directions between SR 86 and Kitt Peak Observatory.
  • Salome Road is closed near Interstate 10, approximately 80 miles east of the California border.
  • Eastbound State Route 88 is closed at milepost 200, northeast of Apache Junction.

Conditions are subject to change as floodwaters recede.

More rain is expected throughout the state tonight and into tomorrow. It’s important that drivers take it slow and drive safely in heavy rain and low visibility conditions:

  • First and foremost SLOW DOWN. The posted speed limit may not be a safe speed to travel in bad weather. On wet roads your vehicle will have less traction than on a dry road. Slower travel speeds allow for safer braking and stopping distances.
  • Be sure to leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you and be aware of the vehicles around you in other travel lanes. Braking and shorter stopping distances will be affected by wet and slippery roadway surfaces.
  • Do not enter an area where the roadway has been closed by barricades due to flooding. You risk your life and face being cited under the state’s stupid motorist law.
  • Storm runoff can loosen boulders and rocks on slopes above highways. Stay alert in rockfall-prone areas.
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or possible stalling. One to two feet of water will float most vehicles and can cause them to be swept away.

Drivers can get the latest travel information by calling 5-1-1 or by logging on to www.az511.gov.