Relentless rain unleashed catastrophic flooding across Colorado’s Front Range this past week. While flash floods are not uncommon in the area, officials say the magnitude and duration of this event makes it one of the worst disasters in the state’s history.
According to meteorologists, the cause of this widespread and destructive flooding was a stalled low-pressure system that funneled moisture into the region from both the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean. Forced upward by the local topography – the Rocky Mountains – this moist air condensed into rain clouds. Without upper level winds to move the system along, rain just kept falling locally. In Boulder County, one of the hardest hit areas, 18 inches of rain fell in one week. They normally receive 20 inches for the entire year.
Impacting seventeen counties across the state, raging floodwaters turned roads into rivers obliterating thousands of homes and claiming the lives of at least eight people. Local officials say hundreds of miles of roadways and dozens of bridges were damaged or destroyed. This has left anyone living in small mountain towns stranded and cut off from basic services like power, communications, and clean water.
This devastating deluge follows a summer marked by drought and wildfires across the state.