Stormy weather arrives in Southwest Colorado

Flash floods prompt search for missing teenager in Nevada

The Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team warms up before practice on a rainy Thursday afternoon at the school. A good chance of rain is in the forecast for Southwest Colorado through Monday. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/ Durango Herald

The Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team warms up before practice on a rainy Thursday afternoon at the school. A good chance of rain is in the forecast for Southwest Colorado through Monday.

A flash-flood watch issued Thursday for Southwest Colorado by the National Weather Service in Grand Junction expired at midnight. But isolated thunderstorms and showers are expected to remain today, agency meteorologist Travis Booth said Thursday.

“There’ll be some decent rain but spotty,” Booth said. “Showers will be isolated, but numerous over the mountains.”

A small-stream flood advisory – meaning possible rockslides and water on roads – expired at 6 p.m. Thursday. The area covered by the advisory was a rectangle bounded by Cortez and Pagosa Springs on the south and Paradox and Lake City on the north, Booth said.

The weather front originated Wednesday in Southern California.

Earlier Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologist Norv Larson said the cloud cover over the Four Corners was a mitigating factor because it lessens the possibility of heavy rain.

The weather service forecast calls for showers and thunderstorms in Southwest Colorado through today.

The chance of rain overnight was 70 percent, dropping to 40 percent today and 30 percent tonight.

Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high temperature in the low 80s.

Blustery weather will return to Southwest Colorado Sunday and Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be sunny with high temperatures again in the low 80s.

Low temperatures through Tuesday are expected to be in the low 50s.

Elsewhere Thursday, heavy rains flooded ditches and roads, prompting a search for a missing Las Vegas, Nev.-area teen and a dramatic rescue in Phoenix.

Crews resumed the search Thursday for a 17-year-old boy who somehow ended up in a drainage wash in Henderson, Nev., which had filled quickly after a morning downpour a day earlier.

Family and friends gathered to search for William Mootz, who was swept away down the flood channel Wednesday. He had been hanging out with a group of friends and apparently didn’t intend to get into the water.

Mootz went missing in the Pittman Wash, which meanders through a suburban area southwest of Las Vegas, near a shopping mall and his high school.

Family members say the incoming high school senior is a strong swimmer and has emergency-preparedness experience.

Rainwater in the wash ultimately drains into Lake Mead.

More than a dozen Henderson police officers were walking alongside the wash with guidance from city public-works employees who know how water typically flows down the channel.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department also was helping.

City crews, meanwhile, got to work clearing brush and mud from box culverts where the wash crossed beneath roads.

“There’s 3 to 4 feet of silt and debris built up in those tunnels,” Henderson city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said. “The mud is up to the knees of some of our searchers.”

During and after the deluge, motorists in the Henderson area found themselves stranded in deep water in city streets, with Clark County firefighters reporting their agency alone responded to 20 calls of people stuck in their vehicles.

In the Phoenix area, flooded roads led to a dramatic rescue Thursday morning. A driver and her disabled passenger had to be pulled from a medical transport van that was stranded after the driver tried to navigate a flooded Scottsdale wash.

Firefighters used a ladder truck and news video showed the driver and passenger climbing out of a van stranded in the middle of a flooded area.

Heavy rains hit much of Arizona early Thursday, with more than an inch reported in an hour in parts of metropolitan Phoenix.

Normally dry washes were rushing like major rivers. Some neighborhoods were flooded and parts of Interstate 10 on the western side of the city were inundated, snarling traffic during the morning commute.

daler@durangoherald.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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