Boulder’s Flood September 2013

It rained all day Tuesday, then it rained again all day yesterday, but last evening it rained torrentialy for the first few hours after dark. By this morning, we’d received 6.5 inches of rain in 24 hours, and by now perhaps 10 inches. That’s about half of our average annual rainfall. The rain has continued throughout today, and is to go into tomorrow.

At our house we had to bail water out of a basement window well for an hour, and eventually got some plastic rigged up to protect that weak point. Up and down our street this morning neighbors were dealing with issues, plastic was being put over chimneys, over roofs, and pumps were being used to pump water out of some of the houses. This fifty year old neighborhood isn’t accustomed to this kind of rain here in Boulder.

The rain is widespread — covering an area from Estes Park all the way to East Denver. East Boulder County is currently cut off from West Boulder County because roads are impassible. Some neighborhoods, communities, and towns have become islands due to closed roads either direction, such as Lyons, which has also lost its water supply.

I ventured out on my cruiser bike around 1 PM today to take some photos, all within a half mile, or so, of our house.

This first photo (above) is of the bicycle trail underpass of Bear Creek and U.S. 36, also referred to as the Denver-Boulder turnpike. During the half hour that I was out, I saw Bear Creek coming up rapidly, as the water level in this photo is much higher than in the first one that I took a half hour earlier.

In the above photo, Bear Creek is coming over the road which is normally the entrance to St. Andrews Church on Baseline Road.

This is the Baseline Road bicycle trail underpass which follows Bear Creek, which is overflowing onto the trail. I visited with a neighborhood lady who was also taking photos in this spot and she told me that all of their neighbors who live along Bear Creek have six to twelve inches of water in their basements.

This is normally a footpath or bicycle trail near Williams Village, part of the University of Colorado’s student housing. Note the two “bumps” in the center are the railings on the footpath, now covered by Bear Creek’s overflowing water.

The University of Colorado’s classes were called off for today and tomorrow. The students that I ran into were totally gobsmacked, asking me how long I’d lived here, and if this sort of thing happens very often. Poor, poor, frosh. One said he felt like he was back in Wisconsin. You can see how wet the conditions still were as I was out and taking these photos, and as I write this. This moisture in the sky is stuck.

The Coast Guard has been called in to our land locked town, and one student told me he saw amphibious vehicles (similar to the ones above) coming in on the turnpike.

That’s my little world view of this flood and you are hearing plenty about it on the national news, so my coverage of it ends here.

UPDATE: The USGS says this now qualifies as a hundred year flood based on flow rates, but doesn’t care for that terminology.

Friday UPDATE: h/t Dennis Dimick for this article – Colorado Deluge: “Could Be Classified as a 1,000-Year Event” By Tom Yulsman. Is this one of those “rivers in the sky” situations? It feels like we are experiencing a tropical moisture event. And the rain started after an unbearable unseasonable heat wave that lasted 3 weeks. Now back to dealing with the 8 inches of water in the basement. Dear old McGuckins Hardware just got a new shipment of sump pumps in.

SEE follow-up post here.

9 thoughts on “Boulder’s Flood September 2013”

  1. We now have 8-10 inches of water in our basement, so my attention is needed elsewhere for awhile. Some of us in this neighborhood were up all night. We’ve been told in the past there is a potential structural issue should our crawl space area ever get wet, which it is now, and the rains are to continue for several days. This river in the sky storm is simply something else. We bought our house in an area that was not in the flood risk region of Boulder, and that was important to us, and we also don’t have flood insurance. But now, I’d guess about every neighbor that has a basement has water in it. Pity those who are much worse off in this town and in other places in Colorado than we are. Right now we’re without heat, hot water, and need to find someone to pump water out of the basement or a sump pump, and we’ve got a lead for that, thankfully.

  2. Oh Kay, our thoughts are with you. For many years we marveled at those high water markers in Boulder and were told how the creeks could dangerously flash flood and now, unfortunately, you are seeing the real thing for yourself. I sure hope the skies clear for the area. We, however, are praying for rain (to abate the fire danger in our area).

    1. Thankyou Janie. We worked really hard (Saturday) and got all the carpet and “stuff” out of the basement and the fans are set up now drying. More rain last night and today, then it should be over. Today will remove drywall and carpet strips and spray some vinegar around to help prevent black mold etc etc. People are encouraged to stay home, so have not left the house to survey other damage yet, other than a dog walk in which we saw that sump pumps and fans are going everywhere in this neighborhood. Other areas of Boulder are worse with mud and collapsed roads and boulders moved around etc. Stopped working long enough to watch the 10 o’clock news last night and it is unbelievable. This is so widespread!

  3. well, at least you’re still here…TV news says hundreds are still unaccounted for…

    when you go out, you’ll find there’s at least 30 less bridges in your area…

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