30-year anniversary of destructive Tucson flooding - Tucson News Now

30-year anniversary of destructive Tucson flooding

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30 years ago this month Southeast Arizona, including Tucson and Nogales, experienced some of the worst flooding on record.  

The toll: 13 dead, hundreds injured, 1,300 homes destroyed or heavily damaged, 10,000 people displaced.

The estimated cost was $500 million in 1983 dollars, which adds up to over $1 billion today. 

In Tucson banks of the Rillito River were washed away, dropping homes into the water. 

The below image was taken by Peter Kresan in 1983 of the Pantano Wash near Golf Links. 

The Pantano Wash drains into the Rillito River. 

Click here for aerial photos of the flooding. 


According to the Tucson National Weather Service (NWS) the towns of Clifton, Duncan, Wilkleman, Hayden and Marana were almost entirely submerged in the floodwaters.  

Click here for a link to the Tucson National Weather Service Report on the flooding.

The flooding was triggered by heavy tropical downpours over the course of six days. 

The surge of moisture came from a tropical storm that weakened off the west coast of Mexico. 

The set-up in the atmosphere pumped that moisture into Arizona.  

After the 1983 damage, changes were made to flood control efforts in Tucson. 

In 2006, heavy rain in the Catalina Mountains flooded the Rillito River with even more water than in 1983. 

But with improved flood control along the Rillito River, no homes were lost or damaged in that area. 

However, there was damage in some homes along washes draining into the Rillito River.  

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