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Monsoon storms: Flash flood watch for Tucson, SE Arizona

Flash floods will be possible in and around metro Tucson until after midnight, officials said. A weather watch is in effect through 2 a.m. Thursday, with heavy monsoon rains meaning some roads and washes will be inundated.

The National Weather Service warned of thunderstorm-driven rains, issuing the watch for the Tucson area, as well as the Baboquivari Mountains, Catalina
and Rincon mountains, Chiricahua Mountains, Dragoon and Mule and Huachuca and Santa Rita mountains, Eastern Cochise County below 5000 feet, Galiuro and Pinaleno Mountains, South Central Pinal County, Southeast Pinal County, Tohono O`Odham Nation, Upper Gila River Valley, Upper San Pedro River Valley, Upper Santa Cruz River Valley/Altar Valley, and the White Mountains of Graham and Greenlee counties.

Covered by the weather watch are Sells, Nogales, Green Valley, Marana, Vail, Picacho Peak State Park, Mammoth, Oracle, Sierra Vista, Benson, Willcox, Clifton, Safford, Hannagan Meadow, Mount Graham, Bisbee, Madera Canyon and  Mount Lemmon.

Monsoon storms will produce very heavy rainfall over short periods of time, officials said. Heavy rain is most likely through early evening although storms could persist into the overnight hours.

Drivers and those participating in outdoor activities should be cautious around washes and low-lying areas, as water can quickly rise from nearby storms even if rain is not falling in the immediate vicinity.

"Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flash floods," officials said.

Tuesday, rainfall caused a washout of the ballast on the Union Pacific railroad tracks through Marana, leading to the derailment of a string of piggyback train cars carrying UPS trailers.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

A 2015 thunderstorm photographed from Sentinel Peak.