Flash flood updates: Heavy rain in Fort Collins, Larimer County

2022-07-29 00:43:59 By : Mr. Jerry Zhu

A flash flood watch is in effect for the burn areas in Northern Colorado all day Thursday following a night of heavy rain. The National Weather Service in Boulder issued the watch on Wednesday, with it set to begin at 11 a.m. Thursday and last through 10 p.m.

That watch includes the East Troublesome, Cameron Peak, Williams Fork and Calwood burn scars and warns that more heavy rain could trigger flash flooding and debris flows.

"Residents in and immediately next to recent burn scars should prepare for potential flooding impacts," the weather service stated in a social media post. "Be ready to act and move to higher ground should a Flash Flood Warning be issued for your location."

Here are the latest updates Thursday:

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the western part of the Cameron Peak burn scar until 5:45 p.m.

Radar and automated gauges are recording heavy rain on the northwest side of the burn area, including Chambers Lake, Kinikinik and Rustic, according to the National Weather Service. Thunderstorms in the area are expected to produce an inch of rain per hour.

Water is expected to rise quickly in the gulches along Highway 14 near and above Rustic as well as in the Poudre River, with large debris expected in the river.

Other affected areas include Sky Ranch, Crown Point Road, the upper Poudre Canyon, Laramie River Road near Chambers Lake, Long Draw Road and remote areas in the Cameron Peak Wilderness and Hague Creek, according to the alert.

Those in these areas are advised to get to higher ground immediately.

Monsoonal moisture is forecast to continue today over the burn scar, foothills and Front Range, creating a high potential for flooding in areas, according to Greg Hanson, National Weather Service meteorologist in Boulder.

“The air is juicy and with the rain that areas received yesterday and in the last week it won’t take much to get things going,’’ he said. “Any thunderstorms in places around Fort Collins that received 1 to 2 inches or more of rain will likely cause some street flooding.’’

Hanson said the atmosphere is unstable but the only uncertainty is if the temperature rises enough to kick off thunderstorms.

“The burn scars are our No. 1 concern,’’ he said, adding the burn scars only saw minor flooding from Wednesday’s rain. “Any thunderstorm up there will cause flash flooding.’’

Flash flood survivor:'When they say flash flood, take it seriously'

Andrew Lafond and his wife barely shooed their kids inside their Wellington home Wednesday evening when all hail broke loose.

"It started to hail, then the big hail came,’’ he said. “First time I've ever seen hail that big in my life.''

Lafond suffered damage to a vehicle, a fence and windows in his house.

“We have some plastic in our window so that we could sleep last night because it was coming,'' he said Thursday. "Before the second front hit us, we just barely got the window taped off.''

Golf-ball-size hail was reported in the Wellington and Severance areas, and tennis ball size in the Timnath area. In Estes Park, small hail piled up so deep the town used snowplows to remove it.

On Thursday morning, Lafond said he had already had contractor look over the damage. Roofing company signs were prevalent in the town north of Fort Collins. Those signs served as a reminder to Lafond and likely other Wellington residents that despite the town being a nice, quiet town, they could do without the hail.

“It’s a beautiful place, it’s just this is the second time we have had hail damage,'' he said.

After a night of heavy rain, parts of Fort Collins remained flooded Thursday morning.

Parts of Fort Collins and Wellington received up to two inches of rain overnight, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

City crews were monitoring localized flooding near Shields and Mulberry Streets and in Fort Collins ditches late Thursday morning, according to a post on the city's Facebook page. While some of the city's ditches were "very full," the breaks between rainstorms Thursday morning were keeping them from overflowing, the post continued.

Lots along the east Interstate 25 frontage road near Prospect Road were flooded around 7 a.m. The parking lot of the Colorado Department of Transportation facility at I-25 and Mountain Vista Drive was also underwater Thursday morning.

Sections of trails throughout Fort Collins were also submerged. A section of the Spring Creek Trail that runs under Stover Street was impassable under 2-3 feet of water early Thursday.

While the official Fort Collins weather station at Colorado State University recorded 1.65 inches of rainfall starting Wednesday night, reports to the Community Collaborative Rain, Snow and Hail Network, or CoCoRaHS, Thursday morning showed up to 2.55 inches of precipitation reported in Fort Collins proper and up to 2.62 inches in Wellington.

A small storm system formed around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, bringing rain to areas of Fort Collins until around 11 p.m. It picked back up again from roughly 1:50 to 5:50 a.m. Thursday, also bringing substantial lightning and winds of up to 23 miles per hour with it, according to the weather station's Thursday morning update.

Thursday marks 25 years since the Spring Creek Flood. In that flood, five women were killed, hundreds of residents were displaced and the city estimated $200 million in damages were caused.

— Sady Swanson and Erin Udell

Damaging hail hit Wellington prior to 9 p.m. Wednesday. Photos on social media and sent to Coloradoan staff showed hailstones the size of walnuts in the affected area.

In Estes Park, hail piled up like snow along the streets Wednesday night. Videos and photos posted online show snowplows pushing clearing the hail from the roads and people shoveling hail from the sidewalks.

Rocky Mountain National Park did not experience hail like more central parts of Estes Park, according to park spokesperson Kyle Patterson. In rainy conditions, the park encourages anyone hiking in areas downstream of burn scars to use extreme caution and be aware of hazards like loose debris, weak and unstable areas where stump holes burned and dead and unstable trees that could be downed by high winds, according to a Facebook post sent out earlier this week.

— Sady Swanson and Erin Udell

More:See what severe weather, flooding, hail looks like in Fort Collins, Larimer County

A flash flood warning had been issued Wednesday night, with the National Weather Service warning of of "life threatening" flash flooding in Larimer County, including the Cameron Peak Fire burn area.

There was some damage to culverts and roads in the lower part of the Buckhorn Canyon, and possibly to some cars parked along the creek along the Pingree Park Road, according to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. No injuries were reported.

Water did come over Larimer County Road 43 at mile marker 12 — likely due to a blocked culvert — but no damage has been reported, according to the sheriff's office.

Officials say they are closely monitoring the weather today.

Less than two weeks ago, two people died in a flash flood in the Crystal Mountain and Buckhorn Canyon areas about 20 miles west of Fort Collins. There were no other reported injuries related to the July 15 flood, according to officials.

A Midtown liquor store suffered a partial roof collapse Thursday afternoon, with one of the factors possibly being the weight of standing water that collected on it during Thursday's storms, according to Poudre Fire Authority spokeswoman Annie Bierbower.

A 100-square-foot section of the store's roof collapsed around 4 p.m. One employee was inside, but was able to evacuate uninjured. No patrons were in the store, which is located at 2439 S. College Ave.

Multiple PFA units had responded and, by 5 p.m., were waiting for a structural engineer to get to the scene so crews could ensure the building was safe to enter, Bierbower said. In the meantime, all other businesses in the building as well as some in surrounding buildings were evacuated as crews inspected their roofs, she added.

PFA had not received any other calls of roof collapses possibly due to the rain, Bierbower said.

"If you have any sort of structure that could be at risk of this, take a look at it," Bierbower warned. "If there's a place for that water to accumulate, it really can add up fast."

Flash flooding is the No. 1 storm-related killer in Colorado and the U.S. because most people don't understand how quickly these floods can happen and don't realize the power of water.

Here are ways to stay safe: