The past two days, flash floods have been our weather story. Dark, gray clouds bringing heavy rains.
dark afternoon skies, 1:30 pm Wed September 11 2013
Once the rains began to fall, and to rain for two hours or more, it didn’t take long to know flooding would soon follow. In our region, the concern are for the two burn areas. The Waldo Canyon burn area, from last year, is the top of the list with its steep terrain. Flooding earlier this summer in that area heightened the worries. The Black Forest burn area, from this past June, had their share of flooding in July and August. What made our current weather pattern quite worrisome was the widespread heavy rainfall predicted in the forecast models, and that much of the heavy rainfall would occur late in the day into the evening hours. The weather forecasts on Monday and Tuesday urged readiness and preparation.
At mid-afternoon, on Wednesday, rain began to fall over our region. It was scattered and not terribly heavy. But, as the rain continued into the evening hours, becoming heavier and widespread, the small creeks and dry washes began to fill quickly. It didn’t take long for authorities to close US 24 west of Colorado Springs. While we had our share of heavy rain overnight, from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, rainfall in the Denver metro area was quite heavy. Particularly hard hit was the Boulder area.
dark storm clouds approaching from the south, 5:08 pm Thu September 12 2013
Throughout the day, yesterday, flood watches became flood warnings. And, with each passing hour, the warned area would grow in size. It wasn’t until late afternoon, after 4:30 pm, when the heavier rains came. In addition to the flooding in the burn areas, street flooding was becoming a serious problem. The police started to close streets in the western half of Colorado Springs as they became nothing more than fast-moving rivers. Fountain Creek, which channels most of the water from the dry washes west of Colorado Springs, was running high and fast. Filled with debris and rocks, concern was steadily increasing. The National Weather Service (NWS) was forecasting it would crest at 12.5 feet, 4.5 feet above maximum flood stage. While it doesn’t sound high compared to the large rivers in the Midwest and east, here in the west, it is high with shallow channels.
rain-ladened clouds pivot to the north-northwest, 5:10 pm Thu September 12 2013
With heavy rains persisting throughout Thursday evening, the number of street closures in Colorado Springs were increasing. Many of the exits on I-25 were shut down to prevent traffic exiting the freeway and head into the western half of the city. Heavy rains were also causing problems to the south, with standing or rushing water crossing SH 115. Though the heavy rains continued well beyond midnight, the amount of flooding didn’t increase substantially.
Today has been a much better day, as there hasn’t been much rain. While rain remains to be in our forecast for the weekend, hopefully it will be free of flooding.
- The first and third photos are color, not B&W.
- It was not a rain day for the area schools, except those districts affected by last night’s flooding.
- Our rain gauge recorded 3.6 inches of rain from Thursday night. Fort Carson, the Army post 10 minutes to our west, received 10+ inches of rain from Thursday afternoon into early this morning.