— Ten years ago —

Unprecedented flooding along Colorado’s Front Range

Thu, Sep 12, 2013

Floodwaters flow across a backyard in Boulder, Colo.
A backyard in Boulder

Flooding in Colorado. I don’t know how detailed the national news has been because I’ve been watching the local stations. Wall-to-wall coverage of wall-to-wall water. Flooding in low areas across the entire Denver metro, including some homes less than a mile from my house. Flooding in many areas of Broomfield, Boulder, Longmont, Lyons, Estes Park, Jamestown, Allenspark. Dams breaking, roads and highways washed out, towns cut off. Three deaths.

6″-10″ of rain in Boulder in the last 12-24 hours. Denver had 4″-5″ overnight. And two more days of rain in the forecast. Four-day totals are approaching average annual totals.

Lyons is completely cut off with no water, no power. Both highway 34 and 36 into Estes Park are washed out in several places, with flooding in town. They plan to use Trail Ridge Road for evacuations if necessary.

Jamestown got evacuation orders and is now cut off.

Elkhorn Avenue, the main drag in Estes Park where most of the shops are, is flooding. The town is at the junction of two rivers, two mountain drainages. They converge at the west end of the downtown area, putting all the businesses there in the bullseye. The town was planning earlier to release water from the lake and by now has probably done so. That will increase the flooding downstream in Loveland and Lyons/Longmont.

Current report says there is a “wall of water” moving down Boulder Canyon toward Boulder. I can’t reach my brother, who was staying near Boulder Creek in Boulder last night. I assume he’s out helping somewhere with rescues or sandbagging or something. They’ve already had a lot of flooding. CU campus flooding, 40 buildings with damage so far, including some dorms.

Another report says a wall of water is moving down Lefthand Canyon, which also empties into Boulder.

Late report: The Coast Guard is en route to help with rescues! (Two hours later this was corrected to “National Guard.”)

The governor has declared a disaster.

Evacuations in Commerce City, just northeast of downtown Denver.

I’m okay here in Thornton. Good drainage around my house; I’m several blocks up from the nearest low area and creek. (I would never live in a low area anywhere. High ground. Always.) My son lives a mile farther up the same hill, near the top, but his neighbor’s basement (next door on the uphill side) is flooded. Son’s house okay.

Thoughts of foliage tours this year dashed. Sounds like all the roads I would normally drive have been flooded and/or washed out. Probably won’t even be able to get to Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park without going around through Winter Park and Granby and approaching from the west. I haven’t heard any reports about Highway 7, the Peak-to-Peak Highway that enters Estes from the south. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s flooded right where it enters Estes.

Many photos from citizens in the area are being posted by Channel 9. These are a few of the hundreds:

A flooded neighborhood in Lyons, Colo.
A neighborhood in Lyons
Flooding in downtown Lyons, Colo.
Downtown Lyons
Flooding near Fish Creek Road in Estes Park, Colo.
Near Fish Creek Road in Estes Park
A flooded park in Aurora (southeast Denver)
Park in Aurora (east Denver)
Flooding in Parkridge Park, Thornton, Colo.
Parkridge Park, less than a mile from me in Thornton (north Denver)

More on Channel 4 and Channel 7 websites.

Denver Post photo gallery here.

And at 1:15 pm, at my house, it’s still raining steadily.


2 pm: The National Weather Service is now using the adjective “biblical proportions” to describe flooding in the area.

11 thoughts on “— Ten years ago —

  1. You horrible woman !!! – I saw the heading, but I fell in to forgetting it because of the drama that ensues thereafter. I had to google it to be reassured.
    You should’ve headed this post “Ten Years Ago: pay attention, M-R !”, OK ?

    1. Sorry about that. I was just sitting here wondering where to put a link to the 10-year-old post. It was gorgeous here today — sunny, dry, temp in the low 70s.

    1. I was safe but so distressed about so many of my favorite places getting flooded. I was amazed at how people pulled together and recovered afterward, but it still took a long time to get back to normal. Several years to repair all the washed out roads and other infrastructure.

  2. I was stuck at my cabin near Allenspark for four days because both roads out of Meeker Park were destroyed. I wasn’t in any danger but it was amazing to see the landscape change into something almost unrecognizable.

    1. From the earliest time i can remember, we spent our vacations in Allenspark. Close enough to everything but not in the busy Estes scene. I remembered the Lawn Lake flood but could scarcely imagine enough flooding to cut off all the roads into Estes. Trail Ridge was still open, but weather could have closed it at any moment. And how many heavy rescue and construction vehicles could have navigated it anyway? I can’t imagine being trapped in the area like you were. Did you have enough supplies on hand? Communication? I didn’t go up there for a long time after the flood. Didn’t want to add traffic to the few roads in and didn’t want to get in the way.

  3. I’m so glad that you posted this. I was just thinking of the flooding here because of the news lately about unprecedented flooding in Libya. We had so much rain here in Aurora that the streams went out of bounds and flowed over the streets, huge fish flapping their way downstream between the cars. I got flooded in the crawl space and a pipe broke in the house; it was a mess. In the days afterwards I saw a big gaggle of people in bright yellow shirts outside the main public library downtown and they were… FEMA workers who had arrived to take applications for emergency assistance. Such a sad and strange time.

    1. I often discuss with my son how we must somehow have bought homes in a dry spot. We seem to get less extreme weather, whether rain or snow or hail, than many other areas in the metro. But ten years ago there were no dry spots anywhere! I’m sorry to hear you suffered so much damage. Must have been an awful mess with water in all the wrong places, mud, etc.

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