Know before you go: winter weather can bring unexpected conditions

February 6, 2019 - 1:08 pm

Wintry conditions can bring unexpected surprises and potentially hazardous situations for unprepared visitors to Coronado National Forest.

It’s easy to plan for outings into snowy country, researching forecast weather and conditions on the ground, ensuring your vehicle is appropriate for road conditions, packing warm clothing and gear for your activities, and letting someone know of your plans. 

Across the Forest, rainy weather has caused stream levels to rise, catching recreationists off guard and leaving hikers in some areas stranded.

“It’s important for people to know that much of our soil is saturated from recent moisture,” said Coronado National Forest Safety Officer Leo Holley. “Water flows downhill, and when rain falls and can’t sink into the ground, runoff into canyons and stream channels can cause water levels to rise and become impassable.”

It doesn’t need to be raining in a particular area for water levels to rise. Streams may fill quickly from runoff generated by storms occurring miles away.

Hikers are advised to “Know Before You Go” and check weather forecasts before venturing out. The National Weather Service website for this area is https://www.weather.gov/twc/ , forecasts may be searched by location.

Canyons and low-lying areas should be avoided during stormy weather. Storms occurring uphill from trails and wading sites may fill streams and washes in a matter of minutes.

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