Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Colorado Flooding

I grew up here in Colorado. I've seen devastating wildfires. I've hunkered down while snow fell, reaching measurements of feet and not inches. I've been caught in a thunderstorm, seen flash flooding, and driven through urban street flooding. Hail is common. Drought is also common. But I have never seen this much rain fall in under a week.

Experts are calling this the 1,000 year flood. Why?

Because this just doesn't happen in Colorado. In their words "It is unprecedented."

Average yearly precipitation in Colorado is around 15 inches. That's including all our crazy snow storms. So to get a better perceptive on just why Colorado is under water right now...

Boulder (in one week) received between 15 and 20 inches of rain. Estes Park measured nearly 20 inches. And other areas across the front range measured anywhere from 5 to 15 inches. It's crazy to think that most areas in Colorado's front range received a years worth of rain in under a week.

All that water rushed down the river canyons, taking everything in it's path before pouring onto the plains and flooding towns along the South Platte and Big Thomson as it went. Water rose in areas far from river basins- in areas no one ever thought would flood.

And sadly, most people here in Colorado do not have flood insurance. And why should we. Floods like this just don't happen...or it's only a 0.1% that it might happen.

Colorado is a dry state. Humidity levels rarely hit 50%. And we have over 300 days of sunshine every year. Mountains receive more snow, and because it is cold, the snow sticks around, but in Denver, the snow may be gone in a day or two. Our ground is red clay, our mountains are not lush and green. We are at a higher chance for fires...not floods. At least not floods like this one. (Flash floods are very common in river canyons and urban streets when thunderstorms rush through the state in short periods of time. It is not common for entire front range towns to be under water because it has rained for nearly a week straight. Weather in Colorado changes quickly and is very unpredictable...it just doesn't rain and rain and rain for days on end.)

The flooding has been devastating. It has affected everyone who lives in and around our front range- from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins and reaching far east through Morgan and Sterling. We have lakes in areas that were just fields yesterday, streets that became rivers, and homes that are now underwater.

I am grateful that I am dry- that my home is dry. I can not say the same for others. Thousands of people are displaced. 8 are confirmed dead at the time of this writing. Hundreds are unaccounted for. And nearly 1,500 homes are destroyed or damaged.

It is going to take some time to clean up the state. Homes, roads, lives, will all have to be rebuilt.

 A field used to play soccer- now a pond...

The field w/o flooding


 My prayers and thoughts to all of those in this devastating time.

Today, the sun is shining!

Best to all,
Becca

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