Colorado Flooding

Posted on 16. Sep, 2013 by in News

As many of you already know, the Front Range of Colorado was ravaged by dramatic flash flooding late last week. The long term effects of this natural disaster are slowly become evident and it is clear that the entire Front Range community will be effected for a long time to come.

It was scary sitting in my apartment on Thursday as the rain, which had fallen all week, seemed to somehow intensify, and the public warning sirens and announcements rang throughout the nearly empty streets in some kind of weird Orwellian nightmare playing out in real life. The rivers and creeks began to spill over, and an unbelievable amount of water turned many of the intersetions in Boulder into small lakes. The water seemed to take indiscriminent turns and paths through the cars, houses, and people all unprepared for what was actually happening. I made a quick video of what I saw near my apartment, of Gilpin Dr which turned into a river, Gilpin Dr. bike path (which if you know the place you know that the water ripping through there is about 10ft deep, where normally it is hardly a trickle) and finally a shot from Colorado, where a car was stalled in a deep puddle.

Suprising footage perhaps, that is until you see some of the damage elsewhere in Boulder (like Topaz street, which was left with a layer of sediment 8-10 inches deep and bowling ball sized rocks were strewn about) or in the mountains just west of the city.

As the rain subsided, photos and videos from familiar places like Lyons, Boulder Canyon Estes Park, Glen Haven and Four Mile Canyon appeared, and the damage was shocking. Cars buried in feet of sediment, huge pines torn from their roots, houses turned into piles of scattered matchsticks. The town of Lyons was completely inundated and the road between Lyons and Estes Park Colorado Hwy 36 (which nearly every climber visiting Rocky Mountain National Park uses) had been completely washed out.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 12.54.38 PM
HWY 36 just outside of Lyons, the main route for most climbers visiting RMNP

Colorado Hwy 34, the Big Thompson Canyon was also washed out. Here is a dramatic shot of the mouth of the canyon.
Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 4.42.52 AM

Here is another video of some incredible devastation from Salina, CO, just 8 miles from downtown Boulder.

It’s hard to know what the future holds for Colorado, although I am confident after seeing and participating in the response that we shall get back on our feet.

For climbers interested in visiting the Front Range for the fall season I would strongly recommend not doing so. As of today, RMNP is closed, and the two most accessible ways into the Park are washed out. It literally may be months until the roads are fixed. The only other options to get to Estes Park are very long and reserved only for people with emergencies (sending your project does NOT constitute an emergency). As far as I know, Mt. Evans remains open as does Lincoln Lake, although the season there is probably only another two weeks. Access to the Monestary is totally closed, as is access to Eldorado Canyon and Boulder Canyon. As fas as I know the Poudre Canyon is closed as well. It’s possibly that any number of boulder problems have been washed away or significantly altered. Please feel free to share questions or concerns. I will try to keep B3 updated if and when these areas do open. The threat of landslides, mudslides or rockfall is greatly increased. Please be vigilant, and if you are interested in helping out, please check out the link.

4 Responses to “Colorado Flooding”

  1. […] that has taken place all along Colorado’s Front Range the past few days that hasn’t already been said?  The level of devastation is really hard to grasp, and it will certainly be many […]

  2. Sander Pick

    16. Sep, 2013

    Good luck out there, Jamie. I can’t imagine what it must have been/still is like. The Valley will happily have you and other Front Rangers this fall.

  3. DT

    24. Sep, 2013

    JE, shocking. I do wonder what the old house at 20th and Arapahoe looks like. Being forced to buy flood insurance seemed like an unnecessary evil back in the day, always thinking that 100 year flood would never happen. Thanks for the inside scoop, and I’m glad you’re safe and sound.

  4. B3

    24. Sep, 2013

    DT, great to hear from you! It was legitimately shocking. It’s been very chaotic, I would be willing to bet your old place off of Canyon was totally flooded. Those without flood insurance were and are hurting. Things with me are good. Second floor.

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