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Flood threat eases in New Mexico; 1 dead

By Kevin Wang, CNN
updated 8:52 PM EDT, Sat September 14, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Man dies after his car is swept away in floodwaters, police say
  • Much of the state got nearly six months of typical rainfall in a few days
  • "It's kind of all over the state," meteorologist says

(CNN) -- The body of a motorist who was swept away during severe flooding in New Mexico was found Saturday, even as the torrential downpours that swamped much of the state began, finally, to let up.

The victim died after his car was apparently pushed off the road Friday in Sierra County during the rains, New Mexico state police said. The man was not identified. His car had California license plates.

"Things are actually getting better now," said Joel Arnwine, the emergency manager for Eddy County, which is located in the eastern part of the state. "We are entering the transition to recovering on Monday."

Arnwine said flooding led to the evacuation of an RV park and road closings.

Portions of central and eastern New Mexico saw nearly six months of typical rainfall in less than a week, said Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

But Saturday was "a transition day," with even less rainfall predicted for Sunday, he said.

Still, the weather service said flash-flood warnings remained in effect for central parts of the state.

The heavy rains, which started late Monday in northern and central New Mexico, were "far-reaching and widespread," triggering a historic overflow of the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico, Jones said.

Though the eastern city of Carlsbad may have been hit the hardest, the western two-thirds of the state also was soaked, Jones said.

The state's largest city, Albuquerque, escaped a predicted downpour Friday night, but is still on track to experience its 10th wettest monsoon season, which ends September 30, he said.

"It's kind of all over the state," Jones said of the rainfall, which reached 12 inches in some areas. But he predicted the problems in New Mexico would not rival those of its northern neighbor, Colorado, where at least four people have died and as much as 15 inches of rain have fallen in some areas in recent days, with more predicted.

Emergency shelters were open in Carlsbad, San Felipe Pueblo and the city of Truth or Consequences, said Beverly Allen, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.

Flood-wary Colorado awaits more rain

CNN's Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.

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