Author: Donna Conneely
Almost the entire city of Denver, Colorado was underwater in early June when the area was bombarded by a massive amount of rainfall. Officials announced that about three inches of rain fell in under one hour, and the ensuing runoff caused major damage to some roadways. Drivers were urged not to drive on the flooded roads to avoid being trapped in a stalled vehicle.
Flash flood alerts were called for much of the area, as firefighters and other rescue personnel struggled to reach stranded motorists. The region was expected to receive more rain through Friday and possibly into Saturday. There were also tornado warnings in effect for parts of the zone affected by the bad weather.
Probably the most bizarre result of the storm system occurred in just one block, in a Denver suburb. This tiny area, alone in all of the city, was buried under almost four feet of hail. Cars were blocked and some were damaged by the falling ice, which affected no other part of the city. Children were overcome with joy, and raced outside to play in the ice mounds, while adults glumly surveyed the damage to their homes and vehicles. More than 30 dump trucks were needed to haul away the piles of hailstones.
Even after the rain began to lighten up, emergency workers and city officials remained alarmed at the state of swollen and fast-moving waterways. The South Platte River was probably the main concern. This river was running at about ten feet, just one foot short of the official flood level. With more rain on the horizon, the worry is that the river will jump banks and other flood barriers to rampage through an already waterlogged city. By the middle of June, 22 counties remained in a state of ‘flood alert’ or ‘flash flood warning’.
For now, Denver seems to have been spared the major damage and loss of life that struck Texas and Oklahoma during Memorial Day weekend. However, with more rain in the forecast, this could change quickly, and residents are being urged to remain vigilant and to exercise great caution when navigating areas prone to flooding. Many Denver residents, who seem to be well accustomed to challenging weather, have been taking this storm in stride. At one outdoor festival, carnival rides and other attractions continued to operate throughout the storm. Meanwhile, rescue workers rest up while keeping an eye on the ominous forecasts.