As Rillito overruns its banks, dozens watch normally dry river run wild
Dozens of Tucsonans stood on the Campbell Avenue bridge to watch the Rillito River flow on Sunday, as the normally dry streambed surged with millions of gallons of rain from monsoon storms.
As water the color of chocolate milk cascaded across both sides of the river, blocking the pathways that normally allow runners and bicyclists to go underneath the bridge, people took photos and videos of each other.
For several minutes, firefighters with Rural Metro Fire Department staged to see if a kayaker, who attempted to run the river, headed toward them. Overhead, Sheriff 1, a helicopter with the Pima County Sheriff's Department circled, before it headed east along the torrent, and was able to scoop up the man, according to video shared by PCSD.
Data from the U.S. Geological Survey said that on July 23, the usually dry river bed had more than 20,000 cubic feet of water flowing in the riverbed per second, or about 9 million gallons per minute. Monsoon storms continued, and by Sunday, the river bed had around 10,000 CFS flowing, according to gauges near Dodge Boulevard.
Pima County officials said Friday that the high volume of water, along with mud and debris, had forced officials to close parts of the Chuck Huckelberry Loop pathway along Tucson's watercourses.
"River mud and silt are especially slippery and it is dangerous to walk, run, or bike across these areas," the county said. "In addition, dangerous debris that can affect the structural integrity of pathways on the Loop may still be present even after flood waters recede."
"Surging water and debris damaged some river rails, and the rails are missing in some places," county officials said. "It is strongly advised that the public not use the Loop until such time as staff can assess and repair any damage that may have occurred during these extraordinary monsoonal events."