PHOTO: Giant Waterfall Looks Like ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ After Huge Amounts of Rain

by Lauren Boisvert

Visitors to Arizona’s Grand Falls were treated to a rare sight recently. After heavy rain, the usually dry cliffs were overflowing with water, creating the natural phenomenon behind its nickname: Chocolate Falls. The falls are located in the Navajo Nation about 30 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona to the northeast. Grand Falls sits at a towering 185 feet, which makes it taller than Niagra Falls at 170 feet.

The falls are fed by two events: snowmelt from the mountains in the spring, and the North American monsoon season. The recent storms in the Southwest have caused Grand Falls to awaken and cascade forth like Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall. Just don’t drink it, or you might end up like Augustus Gloop.

Grand Falls in Coconino County, Arizona (via Lakin Minic/Getty Images)

According to the Navajo Tourism Department, via Accuweather, visitors should watch the weather, since rainfall significantly affects Grand Falls. There’s a river gauge run by the USGS that sits upstream on the Little Colorado River, which the falls feed. The tourism department recommends visitors watch the readings to see if the waterfall is flowing.

“If the reading is in the thousands, plan to visit the Grand Falls within 24-48 hours,” said the department. They also noted that at least some water is flowing when the gauge reads anywhere from 200 cubic feet per second and above.

The Navajo Tourism Department also warned visitors about monsoon season, as storms can crop up quickly and turn the surrounding terrain slippery and difficult. “Be wary of your footing in the area, especially near the falls, the ground might look stable, but could give way,” said the department. Monsoon season often results in flash flooding, so visitors, be aware of the weather.

Heavy Rain in Arizona Creates Chocolate Waterfall, While in Texas, Rain Creates Hazards and Headaches

In Dallas, Texas, recent heavy rains have caused not a chocolate waterfall, but a city nearly underwater. After a severe drought dried out most of Dallas, intense storms ripped through the area, causing homes to flood, roadways to fill up, and stranding residents all over the city. The Dallas Police Department, Fort Worth Fire Department, and Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to over 450 calls for rescue on Sunday night, August 21. Additionally, there were over 100 traffic accidents reported as well.

The storms dumped an entire summer’s worth of rain on the city in a matter of hours. The National Weather Service recorded 10 inches of rain, which is only expected on average once every 100 years. This type of rainfall is a one-in-100 chance, as the NWS reported 3 inches of rain in one hour. This could turn into a one-in-500 event as well if more rain sweeps through the area.

This year, Dallas alone has seen 16.5 inches of rainfall. 20% of that was from last weekend’s storm. Additionally, this phenomenon of a flash drought followed by heavy rain and flooding is called “climate whiplash,” and is caused by an unstable polar vortex and a warming planet.