ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Watches and warnings for storms and flooding again cover much of New Mexico Saturday as historic rains that began Tuesday continue to soak the state.
The latest trouble spot is the community surrounding Bluewater Lake in the Zuni Mountains southwest of Grants.
First flood fatality reported
New Mexico State Police report a body has been found in a car washed down Ash Canyon east of Truth or Consequences.
Initial information indicates the car came of State Road 51 during Friday's flooding, State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said. The call about a mud-covered car in a ravine came in to State Police about noon on Saturday, he said.
Officers still investigating the scene have confirmed one deceased man to be the only occupant, he added. The man's identity has not been determined, Gutierrez said.
This is the first known death from the drenching storms that began Tuesday spawning flooding and evacuations around the state. Read More »
Five rescued after Gila River rises
Search-and-rescue volunteers on Saturday brought two couples and a 3-year-old out of the Gila National Forest where they'd been stranded for days by high water.
The couple with the child were on a nine-day backpack so had shelter and adequate provisions when the Middle Fork of the Gila River became to deep and fast to cross, New Mexico State Police SAR coordinator Marc Levesque told KRQE News 13. They had been stranded since Tuesday, and the were reported as overdue, which launched the search.
The second couple camping in the Jordan hot springs area was on a separate trip and was found by coincidence during the search for the first couple, Levesque said.
Trouble in the Zunis and downstream
Shortly before 9 a.m. the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for parts of Valencia, Cibola and McKinley counties for the flooding around Bluewater Lake and spilling into the Rio San Jose. The river, which flows into the Rio Puerco, is expected to carry potentially dangerous flows reaching Milan and Grants around 11 a.m. and continuing through the Laguna and Acoma pueblos.
Pilot-reporter Bob Martin flying Sky News 13 over the area west of Grants saw homes surrounded by water although it appeared only to have entered a few of them. The Rio San Jose had jumped its banks and was flowing at least a quarter mile wide, he added.
Cibola County Undersheriff Tony Pace told KRQE News 13 flooding in Bluewater Village began when a levee along County Road 19 failed sending water up to 3 feet deep across fields and yards. He said about 15 homes have become islands with not evacuations underway or injuries reported.
Residents are being told to stay put as the county focuses on bringing in sandbags and rechanneling the water where possible.
The flood warning for the Zunis and the Rio San Jose is in effect until 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
Metro Albuquerque again at risk
Albuquerque picked up an official half inch of rain overnight and is included in the flash flood watch posted into Saturday evening. Other parts of the metro saw significantly more rainfall
"Monsoon moisture remains in sufficient-enough supply to continue the risk of locally heavy rainfall across much of north and central New Mexico," the weather service notice said.
Areas already soaked or downstream from wildfire burn scars are particularly at risk for additional flooding.
Rio Rancho takes another beating
While most of the metro dodged major flood damage parts of Rio Rancho got hammered yet again.
Washed away or muddy roads were the norm in some areas Saturday morning leaving a big mess to clean up.
"This is the worst I've ever seen it, and of course I might not get out today, so we'll see," Ronald Frazier said.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of the mess was Monterey Road just a stone's throw from State Road 528.
Half of that road collapsed at one arroyo crossing leaving an area few drivers dared to cross and exposing utility lines unearthed by the rain.
Since the statewide deluge began Tuesday Rio Rancho has been hit with nearly 4 inches of rain.
Rio Grande flood threat passes
The Rio Grande did not overflow its banks as feared overnight, and the flood warning issued late Friday was canceled Saturday morning. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) told KRQE News 13 flooding was no longer an immediate concern as the river is lowering.
The National Weather Service lowered its earlier flood-wave estimate saying the Rio Grande would crest at 6.5 feet. Flood stage is 8 feet.
Late Friday city officials expressed concern the forecast flood wave might driver the river as high as 12 feet. The ordered the riverside bosque closed, but it reopened for recreation at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
More rain is in the forecast and is falling in the North and East Mountains and down in the Southern New Mexico.
Video shows rains within Albuquerque calm down overnight, and MRGCD says water is already receding. However roads remain wet and slick with high levels of water in many ditches around the area.
Gila River floods; national monument closed
In southwestern New Mexico the Middle Fork of the Gila River rose 15 feet causing "significant flooding" through the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Gila National Forest Public Affairs Officer Andrea Martinez said Saturday. Continued high water levels along State Road 15 are preventing access to the cliff dwellings and the Gila Visitors Center, she added.
A log jam backed up water over 20-30 acres, and horse facilities and vehicles were damaged. The bridge over the Middle Fork to the cliff dwellings trail, which replaced a bridge washed away in the 1970s, was not damaged.
A notice on the monument website says the monument and visitor center will remain closed at least through Sunday.
All campgrounds in the area including Lower and Upper Scorpion, Forks and Grapevine have been closed temporarily. Additional information is available from the Gila Visitor Center at (575) 536-9461.
Governor to survey flood damage
Gov. Susana Martinez is scheduled to visit Sierra County and Las Vegas Saturday to inspect flood damage and meet with local officials, her office announced. She also is expected to survey other flooded areas from the air.
Stay with KRQE.com through out the day for the latest updates.
More coverage from KRQE News 13:
Storm flooding spreads havoc across N.M.
Rio Grande flood threat explained
Flooding displaces Las Vegas residents
T or C area braces for more storms
- Post-wildfire flood surges Pecos Canyon
So many of you are getting ready to travel to see loved ones for the holidays or perhaps just take a family trip.
Everybody loves those holiday lights and displays, but if you're not careful they can quickly turn into a Christmas disaster.
Thriftown is helping you get crafty with your gifts for the holidays all while saving you a lot of money.