Heavy rain has been moving across southwestern Colorado over the last few days leading to flash flood warnings in areas that have seen little precipitation the past few months. Tuesday, Crews had to rescue a hiker from Imogene Pass as well as others from other areas of the state. One person died and two others are missing after a flash flood during a rafting trip in a Colorado canyon, according to an email from Larimer County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jered Kramer. Flash floods and mudslides are very dangerous and can cause widespread damage to both people and property. This is why evacuations are ordered by officials when the conditions are right for dangerous mudslides and flash floods.
Evacuations due to Flash Floods
Emergency evacuations were issued for parts of Larimer county and Poudre Canyon, west of Fort Collins because of flash floods. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued flash flood warnings for parts of Dolores, San Juan, Ouray and San Miguel counties Tuesday, the Telluride area was already flooding. The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said mudslides were also occurring in the Telluride area. A flash flood warning was issued for the area near the Cameron Peak Fire burn scar, including the Chambers Lake Campground area.
There are currently (7-21-21) mandatory evacuations in place following a wave of flooding and debris in the Poudre River. Mandatory evacuation orders are in place in the area of Highway 14 from Rustic to Ted’s Place at Highway 287. An evacuation site is being set up by the Red Cross at Cache La Poudre Middle School at 3515 W County Road 54G. The electric co-op, Poudre Valley REA, tweeted that mudslides took down power lines, and bridges were out, making damage assessment difficult.
Burn Scars Prone to Flooding
Radar estimates up to an inch of rain may have fallen on the Cameron Peak Fire burn scar in Larimer County on Tuesday, according to Bob Kleyla, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The fire last year was the largest in Colorado history and burned more than 208,000 acres. Areas burned by wildfire are prone to mudslides because the soil no longer absorbs precipitation, so it runs downhill due to the lack of vegetation to absorb moisture. The National Weather Service in Boulder issued a small stream flood advisory for central Grand County and the East Troublesome burn scar area. A flash flood watch was issued for the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar. The area has seen several mudslides and closures of Interstate 70 over the past few weeks.
Numerous mudslides from the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar overtook a section of interstate 70, Tuesday. The Grizzly Creek burn scar is located right near the highway, as a result, flash floods and mudslides are common dangerously close to the interstate. The highway was closed in both directions through Glenwood Canyon. The threat of flash flooding prompted the Colorado Department of Transportation to close the troublesome part of the interstate. If detouring, Colorado Department of Transportation asked motorists to use the northern alternate route, which adds an extra 2.5 hours of travel time. Highway 145 Spur east of Telluride was also shut down Tuesday. Both, Black Bear Pass and Bridal Veil Road were closed as well, according to the sheriff’s office. The highways are closed when conditions are not safe and you should not attempt to drive on closed highways even if you THINK you have experience driving in bad weather.
Just after 6 p.m Tuesday, 1 to 2 inches of rain had dropped north of Telluride, and flash flooding was expected to continue for “another couple hours,” the National Weather Service said. The sheriff’s office said search and rescue crews had to rescue a vehicle on Black Bear Pass that needed help. The sheriff said the people in the car, who were not equipped for any weather emergencies, were driving on dangerous passes with little or no experience. The search and rescue mission was successful and everybody was safe as of 7 p.m. The outcome could have gone different for the people in the car or the rescue crews. Our heroes are heroes but are also human and the conditions are dangerous for everyone. Please try to avoid areas where flash flooding is possible and evacuate when you are asked, in order to keep the people on Colorado’s search and rescue teams safe to search another day. Check your local National Weather Service and Department of Transportation for up to date road closures and weather conditions. When the weather is bad, stay home if you can and stay safe.
Written by: Erinn Malloy