Updated: Photos and Videos From Dramatic Flash Floods in Colorado

A geyser of floodwater shoots out of a sewer in Manitou Springs, Colorado, as storms dump rain over the Waldo Canyon burn scar.Michael Ciaglo/MCT/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Heavy rains falling in the Front Range of Colorado this week have left at least three people dead, authorities say. Up to six inches of rain fell in 12 hours overnight on Wednesday and into Thursday morning, augmenting what had already been a rainy month in the area and leading to dangerous flash floods that are expected to continue through the weekend. Colorado governor John Hickenlooper called it “the largest storm that I can imagine in the state’s history.”

A spokesman from the US Geological Survey says the this is a 100-year flood, meaning that flooding at this level in the area takes place once every 100 years, according to the Denver Post—though others say it could even be a “a 500- to 1000-year event.”

The rain brought the water, but wildfires in Colorado from recent years have made the flooding worse than it would have been otherwise, experts say. “When you have a dense forest with undergrowth, you have plants and things to trap moisture and rain,” Kari Bowen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Boulder, told LiveScience. “But when it’s gone, you have nothing to catch it.”

The rain continued Thursday, making it difficult (and in some cases impossible) for rescuers to reach flood-stricken towns. In the video below, from CBS4 in Denver, rescue crews pull a man from a car that has been overturned near Lafayette, Colorado, where rock slides and flash flooding collapsed homes, put dams at risk, and forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

 

The graph below shoes water flowing from Fourmile creek over the past week in Orodell, Colorado, west of Boulder:

Below is the gage height of the same river, which reflects the amount of water flowing through it:

graph

The University of Colorado-Boulder has evacuated more than 350 people from university housing and reports that 25 percent of the buildings on campus have sustained damage so far, according to the Weather Channel.

 

 

The flooding cut off almost all roads to Boulder, according to the Denver Post, and many roads in the city are impassable.

 

USA Today reports that officials expect more rain, and probably more flooding, over the weekend.

 

 

This story has been updated since publication.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate