Boulder Flood 2013

by Dave Michels

Just a short update on the Boulder Floods. BoulderFlood2013

It’s been a long storm. It rained most of last week, but really started coming down last Wednesday. My wife and I got caught in the downpour coming home. We hit some road closures and ended up taking a longer route. The rain was tremendous. Most of us have been caught in heavy rainstorms- what was different was it didn’t stop. It was heavy, extreme rain for 3 days. No one knew how bad it was going to be. The forecast called for heavy rain and the inevitable flash flood warnings – but those aren’t uncommon.  I write this Sunday night.

They closed the schools on Thursday which is uncommon – despite the wishes of my kids there hasn’t been a snow day for several years now. The rain continued all through the weekend.

The destruction started to become clear on Friday. We were warm and dry, but the images of nearby familiar places started coming in. Wow.

The forecast says we are now past the worst – Monday will continue with rain, but much less. Tuesday we expect to see the sun again. The Boulder schools will remain closed at least through Tuesday – that’s 4 days of closures with a weekend in-between in a district that is largely impervious to weather. They say this amount of water could have been over 10′ of snow. People go crazy about powder skiing with a foot of snow. About 10 years ago, we had a storm that dropped almost 4′ of snow in 2 days. Denver International Airport was closed for 4 days. Colorado is tough, but this amount of precipitation is humbling.  By the way, the school closures were communicated by website, email, and outbound recorded calling. Go Boulder.

I’m pleased to report family and home are doing well. We have had no injuries, and no apparent damage to the home or property. Find me some wood to knock-on.

I can’t say the same for Boulder and the surrounding areas. The devastation has been impressive.

For those not familiar with flash floods, the term describes sudden flooding typically caused by heavy rain. Flash floods can happen anywhere, but are mostly associated with dry areas. In Colorado, they are amplified by the mountains – the water builds up everywhere and then accumulates in gullies and streams into larger fast flowing rivers. The known rivers in the area are flooding their banks, but even worse new rivers formed where they aren’t supposed to be. We have rivers literally flowing down roadways, or wherever the water chooses to go. The hardest hit areas are close to – or in – the mountains. Not all the water is passing through, it also accumulates in the soil and wherever gravity calls it. Lots of basements and roads are flooded. The water is causing tremendous damage to roads and bridges. A few of the nearby mountain towns are largely destroyed and completely cut-off. The only way in or out is via helicopter right now.

Boulder is (just barely) on the east side of the Continental Divide. That means that all this water is headed toward the Atlantic, so lots more damage coming as the water works its way east.

We are mostly staying home, inside and dry – watching the news like many of you. We have not lost power – Internet is stressed, but up. My youngest son interns at Boulder Municipal Airport which has become the command center for Search And Rescue, FEMA, and the National Guard. We’ve been taking him in daily so he can contribute where he can. He’s enjoying the large assortment of interesting choppers and equipment that aren’t normally there. The airport is otherwise closed to the public – just to drop him off I have to get through two police checkpoints. They have several Chinook choppers that can hold 30 people.

Thanks for all the concern – happy to report we are dry, concerned, and hopeful for some sun.


Daily Camera: Local Boulder Paper

Boulder Office of Emergency Management website

Missing People

Twitter: #BoulderFlood.