Heavy rainfall causes Pecos River to overflow, break record

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CHAVES COUNTY, N.M. — The National Weather Service has called the flooding in southern New Mexico a 100-year storm.

Andrew Mangham, senior service hydrologist at the National Weather Service, said they’re all flabbergasted at the amount of rain the area has seen.

“We started seeing it rise, and it ended up shattering the previous record, the previous record was that the gauge topped out at 14.5 feet, we had over 17 feet on this gauge,” said Mangham.

That’s quadruple the normal amount – officials said the Pecos River is normally at four feet of water.

Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington said, luckily, there have been no injuries. The early warning from the NWS helped get people to safety in time.

Local first responders said they’ve been doing what they can to warn people. The road closures have made it hard to navigate the area, and they urge people to be patient.

The flood waters have disrupted some local wildlife – the sheriff’s office said the flood waters are filled with displaced rattlesnakes. The sheriff said to be careful and don’t walk or play in the water left behind. The poisonous snakes are extremely aggressive, especially after getting washed away.

As for that residual water, where it will end up?

“So the short answer is that it will continue down to the river channel, slowly, it’ll go down and impact Artesia next, and we’re predicting some flooding there. And then it’ll move further down towards the Carlsbad area,” Mangham said.