Only a few months after bone-dry conditions were elemental in wildfires across Colorado, torrential rains and flooding struck the Front Range, leaving roads washed away and closed, basements underwater, tragic casualties, and hundreds unaccounted for within a week. The worst of the disaster fell upon the Boulder area where, according to the Denver Post, flood waters reached an estimated 4.5 billion gallons of water as of Friday. In Lyons roads in and out of the town were unusable, and in Jamestown citizens had to be evacuated with helicopter. Downtown Evergreen was also completely flooded and the South Platte’s rising in Aurora led to some raft rescues, while Longmont, Greeley, Estes Park and other areas were also badly hit.
The heavy rains Monday night through Thursday caused rivers to rise very quickly. For Golden residents, the peak height of Clear Creek as of Saturday was 6.75 feet, recorded Friday morning by the USGS. This was over two feet higher than the previous week. The flooding of the Clear Creek river plain was on the order of a five or ten-year flood, while some areas such as those near the Big Thompson River and Boulder Creek are of a 100-year flood scale, statistically meaning that a flood like this will not occur again for another 100 years. While Golden was thankfully not hit as hard as other areas, geohazards abounded near the Table Mountains and Clear Creek Canyon. Rockfall and landslides were a real threat, with one car-sized boulder rolling off of South Table Mountain and debris flows excavating the highways west of Golden. North and South Table Mountain even had waterfalls cascading down their mesas for a short time, as the earth had become over-saturated and water had nowhere to go but down. Road closures caused CSM to dismiss class Friday at 3PM, although road conditions were much worse Thursday. Golden’s notable evacuations were of the Clear Creek trailer park, as the park is mere feet away from the creek’s rising banks.
Citizens were cautioned against travelling in the Front Range area, and are warned to not go near the rivers or creeks, keeping safety as the top priority. Colorado has seemed to have been hit with misfortunate natural disasters the past couple of years, but the people of Colorado are resilient.