Detours & Downpours


Detours & Downpours

Mid-Summer Storm Gives Motorists Best Detour Ever

Showers and thunderstorms dumped 6.7 inches of rain in the drought-stricken region of Desert Center Sunday, July 19th. The storm produced 1.5 inches of rain an hour resulting in flash flooding that lead to the collapse of the Tex Wash bridge in the eastbound lane of Interstate 10. Detours were quickly created following the closure of I-10 in both directions which diverted traffic through a series of state routes eventually leading drivers to the much sought after desert town of Parker, Arizona.

Rarely have we seen traffic conditions like those which followed. Even during peak traffic of the summer holidays and winter visitor season the amount of vehicles coming through town had never been seen before by this hometown resident. It was as if some mass evacuation was being made to flee some unbeatable monster hell bent on destroying all in its path…

Line of traffic stretching down California Ave (Hwy 95)

Hold on, that is exactly what happened.

When a violent thunderstorm breaks over the mountains and deserts of the southwest, runoff from the torrential rains cascades into the steep canyons in a matter of minutes. Walls of water swirl through the canyons and arroyos, picking up mud, boulders, trees and other debris. Plants, animals and sometimes people are caught, swept along and battered in the onrushing torrent of the flash flood…

What’s that you say? Oh, it’s not raining around you right now so you’re safe?

Lemme stop you right there and instruct you to fasten your lap restraint because the knowledge train is about to barrel down the tracks towards Makes Sense-ville: Even if your immediate area isn’t being battered by rains flash floods can result from thunderstorms centered over mountains many miles away. This raging water becomes a monster destroying all in it’s path. Washes fill within minutes and continue their onslaught down the path of least resistance across the desert floor. Eventually these waters cross roads, streets, and highways bringing with them debris and a force strong enough to damage both property and person alike.

The Tex Wash bridge didn’t stand a chance as flooding began eroding the banks of the wash under the bridge. According to the Federal Highway Administration, just last year inspectors gave the 48 year old bridge a “sufficiency rating” of 91.5 out 100. It should have withstood even the heaviest rainfall.

It didn’t.

We continue to see the evidence of an aging infrastructure system, but with budgets being constantly cut on both the federal and state levels is it any surprise that these things happen? No, in fact I would expect them to only increase until those who have been given the responsibility make it a priority.
(See also Education System, Healthcare, and yes of course Tourism)

…but I digress.

Rerouted travelers witnessed small town charm at it’s finest as they found themselves gazing upon a pair of towering American flags patriotically guarding the way of Highway 95. Partakers of this eye feast continued west to join the 62 all while in the presence of the architectural beauty from an oft forgotten time found within the railroad bridge that spans the flowing waters of the Colorado River far below. Drivers then made their way into Southern California and eventually right past Joshua Tree National Park on their way they rejoin Interstate 10 just beyond Palm Springs at the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Yep, best detour ever. They should visit on purpose next time.



September 4-7
Labor Day Weekend
Come enjoy the last holiday weekend of the Summer in Parker!

September 24-27
20th Annual Centurion Boats World Wake Surfing Championship
Bluewater Resort & Casino

Josh Savino
Tourism Coordinator
Parker Area Tourism

you made it

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