Odile's Gift to the Twin Cities of Portal Rodeo

Hurricane Odile arrived from the Pacific after moving across northern Mexico and southern Arizona.  Its' arrival began as a slow march of cloud cover up the San Simon valley and over the mountains.  The resulting sunset was a multicolored event that belied the amount of rain that was to fall.  The first 2 days of rain were light at the Painted Pony Resort where a modest 0.11" and 0.26" of rain were recorded.  Then the main mass of the storm arrived bringing significant amounts of rainfall to the area with reported 1 day totals between 4 - 5 inches of rain around the valley.  Cave Creek Canyon experienced serious flooding as did areas of the valley including highway 80.  The main mass of the storm delivered 3.34" of rain to the estate over a 24 hr period and then began to taper off with a final days total of 0.41".  The total accumulated rainfall for the storm on the estate was 4.17" bringing the yearly reported total for station NM-HD-17 to 12.54".

As shown in the images below, water flow across the landscape (flooding) was confined to 2 areas where an old drainage from the west crosses the estate on its way to the San Simon river bed.  Experiencing mostly sheet flooding water depth reached a maximum depth of 1-2', although wide swaths of the road were flooded.  Of course the riverbed itself as conduit for water from up the valley (to the south) had several feet of water and the east side of the estate is currently inaccessible.  The check dams, tumbleweed garlands, and topsoil restoration barriers preformed well and all were in place after the storm.  Capturing sediment and slowing water flow these structures protected segments of the road and barren areas of the landscape slowing the water and depositing sediment.  One problem arroyo along Painted Pony Rd. collected about a foot of sediment during the storm demonstrating the efficacy of water management efforts on the estate.

The arrival of Odile was heralded by a multicolored sunset over the San Simon valley.
After the big rain - looking west at the flow across Nighthawk Rd.

After the big rain - looking south at the flow across Painted Pony Rd.
After the big rain - an old drainage that has good grass cover.

After the big rain - a check dam with tumbleweed garland and newly collected sediment along Painted Pony Road.
After the big rain - performance of topsoil restoration barrier installed last year.


  1. Great pictures, your hard work has proved itself!

  2. Thank you. It is hard to get back into the swing of things after a couple days of rain, but I suppose I will have to get back to work.

  3. I missed a great photo for that great sunset I missed totally
    AND yesterday all that tall grass, waist high, was bent over and I missed that photo opportunity as today the sun came out and the grass dried and stands tall again.
    The bridge being closed over Cave Creek yesterday because Cave Creek came OVER the bridge was stunning to me!

  4. I miss lots of photo opportunities and try to keep a camera handy, but still miss some great shots (I'm a 1%er when it comes to photography). Things are always changing bringing new photo opportunities so I just wait knowing something new will present itself. So I would keep looking up and catch the next one.

    I was able to get down in to riverbed yesterday afternoon and the water spans the riverbed (about 0.1-0.15 miles wide) moving through the tall grass. I could hear running water and waded out until the water was about a foot deep (not very far about 75') and got a couple of images but they do not do the scene justice. The water cresting the bridge in Portal and covering Highway 80 is just an indication of the amount of water the area received. I believe slowing the water is the key to minimizing erosional damage and good ground cover is a part of the effort. The damage from the Horseshoe 2 fire 2 years ago combined with with an inordinate amount of rain was the culprit, I was just glad it did not happen right after the fire last year. I believe the damage would have been much much worse. I have observed positive results from many of the water management techniques implemented at the Painted Pony Resort and believe these simple measures could be implemented easily by others to control water flow and increase land productivity which in turn would minimize damage by these big water events.

  5. I attended Sew What yesterday. The Celayas are stuck because of Zent Road damage from Odile and could not be guest speakers, but the Forest Service District Ranger, Kevin Warner gave a presentation and took questions for over an hour. I'll send you my notes via email. Bottom line is Kevin NEVER said walkers not allowed so the Forest is open to walker [hikers!] and bicyclists; not to vehicles. The 42 Road is closed.

  6. Thank you for the update. It is good news that the canyon will be accessible to hikers and cyclists. Road work is proceeding here with the owner out on his newly repaired grader and doing touch up work on the 3+miles of road leading to and around the estate. He is a very happy camper. He commented on the number of grassland birds and is pleased with restoration efforts to date.

  7. I heard that Bill Cloudt used road equipment to get to Celaya's door by Tuesday but by that time Sew What programs committee stuck with the District Ranger talk and that was a good call. It was very informative and the District Ranger said he NEVER said we could not walk there, somehow that got into the communique. Hubbie and I and 2 dogs parked by barricade and walked to Idlewilde Campground and saw District Ranger with 2 other FS agents and a reporter in that campground. That may never be an overnight campground again, may be just day use. Water from the creek was 2-3 feet higher than the campground spots, the road is gouged and what a mess! The cement picnic tables and the bathroom building are in fine shape!

  8. If the barricade is at the visitors center I would think opening the parking lot would alleviate any potential traffic problems. I'm saddened to hear the Forest Service is contemplating closing Idlewilde to overnight camping, but can understand their reasoning. Low visitation translates to low priority in the Forest Service. Here is the link to InciWeb and official closure notice from the Forest Service