Greenbelt Flooding Indian Bend Wash

Parks & Greenbelt Turned Flowing River

While seasonal monsoon storms commonly bring heavy downpours, unusually prolonged rainfall can cause dramatic flooding through Indian Bend Wash. In this case, a Pacific hurricane to the south combined with the remnants of an Atlantic tropical storm from the east brought moisture and storm activity to much of the Southwest. After heavy overnight rainfall across most of the metro-Phoenix area, the normally dry greenbelt was transformed into a flowing river.

Part of the overnight storm moving through Phoenix.

Part of an extensive 11-mile corridor of parks, multi-use paths, lakes, golf courses, athletic facilities and greenspace, Indian Bend Wash collects and drains surface runoff from central Scottsdale south to Tempe Town Lake on the Salt River. The many small bridges that commonly act as underpasses for the greenbelt bike path also allow water to flow under crossing roadways during flash floods. The storm runoff turns low park areas into shallow lakes and existing lakes into bigger lakes, but the bridges and other more confined channels create powerful flows, dramatically illustrating just how much water moves through the wash.

Although planning first began in the 1960s, development of Indian Bend Wash became more immediate after a major storm in 1970 caused significant damage to the wash area and intersecting roads. The infrastructure of the wash and greenbelt was completed in the mid-1980s and while heavy rains can exercise its limits, Indian Bend Wash has been carrying storm runoff safely through the heart of Scottsdale ever since.

Indian Bend Wash Path - more wash than path today.

Even after big rains the wash flows for just a day or so and particularly in the hotter, drier weather, remaining pools and puddles soak in and dry up in a few days. Summer monsoon storms are always a welcome break from the generally predictable weather of the Southwest and this kind of unusually heavy rain is a remarkable reminder of how dynamic the desert climate can be.

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