Remembering 2013’s 1,000-Year Floods
Yes, it’s true, 2020 wasn’t exactly a banner year for us here in Colorado—Or anywhere, really. But I find it comforting to remember the times when we’ve been through the wheelhouse before and made it through all the same. For instance, take the time when 2013 saw fit to deliver Colorado what some called the ‘1,000-Year Flood,’ the likes of which we haven’t seen since.
According to the Reporter Herald, the Front Range had seen an unseasonably hot start to September (more of that to come over the next decade, sorry, Colorado), when a cold front suddenly stalled over the front range. A true deluge opened over Denver, Boulder, Loveland, Jamestown, Longmont, Lyons, Fort Collins and Estes Park, sending flood waters galloping almost 200 miles to the north and south by the time the storm cleared.
For five days, rain poured from the heavens, closing Colo 7, US 36, US 34 and even I-25. Estes Park was cut off from the lowlands due to flooding, and evacuations were issued for the 100 Year Flood Plain in Loveland. Rocky Mountain National Park was closed and the Bureau of Reclamation ended up releasing 6,000 cubic feet of water per second into the Big Thompson to ease the flooding. Army helicopters and the National Guard had to step in to help rescue those who were stranded, and President Barack Obama ended up declaring a major disaster for Larimer, Boulder and El Paso counties to get us funding for the recovery process.
In the end, Wikipedia estimates that 19,000 homes were damaged and 1,500 destroyed. Loveland got a total of 8.68 inches of water throughout the flood week, Estes Park received 7.64 inches, and Boulder ended up with a whopping 15-20 inches of rain in total. It was, as the kids say, ‘straight-up not a good time.’
Just about everyone along the front range knows someone whose home was impacted or had to repair flood damage themselves. But the events of 2013 were also the kind that brought people together and showed us that we can weather any storm. And given that NOAA's Climate page cited the floods as a once-in-1,000-years type of event, we can handle one heck of a storm at that.
Now we get to quarantine in our basements instead of bailing them out, which has to count for something. In the meantime, check out this video by Rick Grigsby as he documented the floodwaters sweeping through Estes Park.
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