One killed in Grand Canyon as warnings of flash floods and thunderstorms across US this weekend

·2 min read
A Toyota Prius was carried away by flooding in Flagstaff, Arizona on 16 July 2021 (ABC15 Arizona)
A Toyota Prius was carried away by flooding in Flagstaff, Arizona on 16 July 2021 (ABC15 Arizona)

A 29-year-old woman was killed and others were injured during a flash flood in Grand Canyon National Park, according to the National Park Service.

Authorities were called on Thursday after two people went missing from a rafting trip after a sudden flood on the Colorado River.

Rebecca Copeland of Ann Arbor, Michigan was named as the deceased. The other individual was found uninjured. Five people were evacuated by air early on Friday morning, with one in critical condition.

The same system saw parts of Arizona hit by devastating flooding with the city of Flagstaff declaring a state of emergency on Friday as torrents of water flowed down streets, carrying away vehicles.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey also declared a state of emergency on Friday for Coconino County, freeing up $200,000 of state funding to help with the clean up.

Friday’s flood appears to have been intensified by the lack of vegetation on a nearby mountain following a 2019 wildfire.

Western states have been sweltering under record-breaking heat in recent weeks, with Flagstaff hitting 94F (34.4C) on 15 June, breaking a record that has stood since 1974.

Flash flooding is common in desert areas as the ground cannot absorb heavy rainfall having been baked dry in the heat. Water can then rush through canyons creating extremely hazardous conditions.

Elsewhere in the US, Columbia, South Carolina was hit by a fast-moving storm on Friday afternoon temporarily flooding some roads, with authorities warning drivers to exercise caution in low-lying areas.

In Detroit, the I-94 freeway closed for the second time in less than a month due to flooding after heavy rainfall swept across the city on Friday.

A rainstorm in late June saw one section of the roadway closed for a week. In response to the massive rain event, President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for Michigan. The state was also hit by a series of tornadoes.

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Meanwhile, in Missouri on Friday, two people had to be rescued from flash flooding in Madison County, having been stranded on top of their vehicle by fast-rising water.

This weekend, large parts of Montana and Idaho are under an excessive heat warning with the possibility of severe thunderstorms.

In the northeast, a flood warning and flood watch covers large parts of Ohio and western New York. Up to three inches of rain is predicted over a short period of time around Buffalo leading to a warning from the National Weather Service.

Much of the remainder of New York state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the environs of Washington, DC is bracing for the possibility of severe thunderstorms on Saturday.

Parts of southeastern Kansas and northern Oklahoma have been told to prepare for potential flooding with a flash flood warning issued for areas Wilson County, Kansas.

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