If you’re new to New Mexico it might surprise you to find that drowning in New Mexico is possible. Here’s how it can happen. When it rains the water runs downhill. The arroyo system was created to funnel this water away from the mountains and into the Rio Grande. 99% of the time the arroyos are dry and therefore appear safe to walk or play in. However, even if it’s sunny and dry in Albuquerque it might be raining in the mountains.
If this is the case the rain can cause a flash flood, New Mexico’s most common natural disaster, that could sweep through an arroyo in a matter of seconds. The water can go up to 40 miles per hour, making it nearly impossible for anyone in an arroyo to get out. Ditches are used to carry irrigation water and are often lined with mud. Their banks are slippery and can very easily cause a person to slip and fall inside the ditch. In addition to mud, ditches often contain broken glass and even dead animals!
If those don’t get you the undertow will! The water might look calm on the surface, but underneath lives a current that will make it very difficult for even good swimmers to escape.
If you ever see someone enter a ditch or an arroyo tell them to get out. If they’ve already been swept away by the undertow or a flash flood, don’t try to save them, call 911 immediately!