Colorado flood check in thread September 12, 2013 3:57 AM   Subscribe

After 4-7 inches of rain tonight and more falling, the front range of Colorado is experiencing flash flooding, particularly in burn areas. This thread is to check in and share information.

Near Boulder Jamestown and Fourmile canyon have been evacuated, a dam break on the St. Vrain river is causing floodwaters to move toward Lyons, and one death has been confirmed so far.

We're fine but non-phone internet is down (the horror!), links to good sources of information would be appreciated.
posted by medusa to MetaFilter-Related at 3:57 AM (71 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I apologize for not posting links because I'm phone posting. I'm hoping those with working non-phone internet can help.
posted by medusa at 4:13 AM on September 12, 2013

The best source of info currently seems to be the Boulder office of emergency management site. Schools and non emergency government are closed today, as is CU Boulder. Some dorms are flooded and a couple hundred people have been evacuated from CU family housing.

Lots of reports of road closures due to debris slides, especially in the mountains. I-70 is/was closed in Clear Creek County due to a landslide. The Boulder sheriff is requesting that people shelter in place Thursday to keep roads accessible to emergency crews. There are reports of emergency services being unable to reach stranded people because roads are impassable.

Here there's a steady stream of emergency sirens that I can hear over the rain. What are all the rest of you doing, sleeping or some crazy-ass thing?
posted by medusa at 4:49 AM on September 12, 2013

Jesus. I hope people are safe as can be.
posted by rtha at 4:50 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

The news from the Denver Post ("county officials reported multiple homes had collapsed in the Jamestown area" - multpile?!).
posted by rtha at 4:56 AM on September 12, 2013

Boulder Daily Camera story is getting updated regularly.

Denver Post story has more statewide info, this is a mobile site link.
posted by medusa at 4:57 AM on September 12, 2013

This kdvr page has links to campus alerts, power company outage map and a liveblog.
posted by rtha at 5:01 AM on September 12, 2013

"Evacuation centers were set up at the Boulder YMCA, 28th Street and Mapleton Avenue, and at the North Boulder Recreation Center, but officials are asking people not to go there due to flooding of the streets around those buildings."
posted by medusa at 5:04 AM on September 12, 2013

The excellent live blog rtha linked is reporting two deaths confirmed in Colorado Springs. It also includes an amazing graph of the height of Boulder creek overnight.
posted by medusa at 5:10 AM on September 12, 2013

Looks like I just beat the excitement - I was rolling Grand Junction to Denver along I-70 yesterday morning.

The clouds and rainbows and such were amazingly beautiful coming back over - real once in a lifetime stuff. Denver was getting absolutely hammered when I rolled through, and I was afraid I was not going to have a flight home.

Hope everyone is alright.

Cross your fingers, I was in GJ for a job interview!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:03 AM on September 12, 2013

That's some bad flooding to be driving in, not recommended.

There are also vids of CUB stoodents bailing ankle deep water. In a room where the TV set is still on. Urm. Don't.

Front range radar.

CSPD updates for shelters and road closings.
posted by buzzman at 8:21 AM on September 12, 2013

Clear creek and Platte river aren't close to flooding (so far) which is a relief.

If anybody finds themselves stranded tonight and in need of a place to crash, hit me up on memail.
posted by boo_radley at 8:27 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm working from home (a few hundred feet higher than Boulder Creek, thankfully) but my partner headed out to take the bus to his work in downtown Boulder, which is near 28th and Pearl. I'm nervous but he agreed he'd come home if the bus wasn't running.

We're supposed to head down to Denver tonight but it looks from the Denver Post link that rtha posted that maybe 36 is closed (?!?!) at Sheridan. That certainly doesn't sound promising.

I'm just crossing my fingers that the river running down our alley doesn't make it into our basement where we're in the middle of a very expensive (for us at least) demolition and remodel job. Ugh. Everything is damp-ish but no pools of water so far.
posted by iminurmefi at 8:49 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I live in Lafayette and were all in good shape here. The field behind my house has standing water but nothing dangerous.

My drive to work this morning was interesting with fields on both sides of 287 flooded and one field pouring heavily into another. Also one section of road was closed with a city dump truck redirecting traffic. The alternate route had a little standing water.

We just got an email here that said the building immediately north of us has been evacuated due to water coming in through the drains.

Fun times...
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:49 AM on September 12, 2013

iminurmefi: "We're supposed to head down to Denver tonight but it looks from the Denver Post link that rtha posted that maybe 36 is closed (?!?!) at Sheridan. That certainly doesn't sound promising. "

Yeah, things were dicey around 120th and Wadsworth according to my wife's coworkers -- apparently drainage was not a concern with the construction in the area.

edit: oh, and I'm in Lakewood, near 6th and Wads -- it's been pouring buckets all day.
posted by boo_radley at 9:25 AM on September 12, 2013

Denver proper is still fine; looks like it's really the base of the foothills. CDOT's road condition map is pretty good for keeping an eye on things. Big time flooding in the Big Thompson as well; Denver Water is pushing water through the dams to keep the lake level from getting too high. I have some friends outside of Boulder who have water flooding into their basements.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:49 AM on September 12, 2013

Big time flooding in the Big Thompson as well

Words to send chills down the spine, for anyone from Colorado old enough to remember that particular flood.

Thanks for posting this, and I hope all front range MeFites continue to be OK.
posted by scody at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stay safe, everyone! Flash floods can be deadly- I was a kid in Colorado when the Big Thompson flooded, and on preview I see scody is right there with me.
posted by ambrosia at 10:39 AM on September 12, 2013

Lyons is getting absolutely hammered, the whole town is underwater, link.

Big Thompson Canyon is going to be evacuated. It is chilling.
posted by medusa at 10:53 AM on September 12, 2013

Question: I'm not too worried about our house being hit by flood water, since we have some decent elevation between us and the creek--but should I be thinking about things like storing some fresh water in case the water supply gets contaminated? I'm seeing notes on the Boulder OEM twitter account to stay out of creek water due to potential bacteria and sewage, and that people in Lyons need to be boiling all their water until further notice due to contamination. Is this a worry for the Boulder water supply? (I have a vague sense that the water treatment plant is up near Betasso, so maybe this is an unduly paranoid thought?)

No bathtub in my house, but I could dig out some big stock pots to fill. But I would also feel ridiculous to have pots of water all over my counters for no reason, especially if this is just an overreaction brought on by the relentless messages pregnant ladies are subjected to about being really careful to avoid bacteria in their food and drinks.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2013

iminurmefi, flooding can damage water system pipes causing infiltration between you and your clean water source. It is a good idea to store up some clean water in case that happens.
posted by maggieb at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

iminurmefi: I was in Iowa during the 1993 flood, and folks definitely starting storing water even without an official directive, in case the plumbing went out.
posted by scody at 11:57 AM on September 12, 2013

First news I heard was a phone call from the garbage company saying they weren't sending out trucks today because of the flooding. I'm in south Boulder, about 20 feet above the nearest creek. Water and electricity are still on. I'm glad I went to the grocery store yesterday.
posted by Bruce H. at 12:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Better to feel silly and not need the posts have water. /earthquake country dweller
posted by rtha at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2013

Online scanner feeds (by county) are here, if you still have Internet access. It looks like the Colorado forum on RadioReference is hopping a bit too.
posted by jquinby at 3:21 PM on September 12, 2013

Loveland is evacuating people along the Big Thompson River. US-34 into Estes Park is closed, and apparently parts of the road have collapsed.
posted by lilac girl at 3:53 PM on September 12, 2013

I'm pretty much glued to the hydrograph for Boulder Creek this afternoon. It looked like it was going down, but the rain has picked up to torrential again in the past hour and it looks like the water level is rising again like it did last night.

Someone at the USGS publicly said that this is the 100-year flood they've been warning us about. (Found via the Daily Camera twitter feed, which has been the best source of non-crappy yet quickly-updated news so far.)
posted by iminurmefi at 4:09 PM on September 12, 2013

Parts of Boulder county have received 11inches of rainfall in 3 days. Boulder's average annual precipitation is 20 inches. The amount of water is blowing my mind.
posted by medusa at 5:56 PM on September 12, 2013

Video of. Flooding.
posted by misha at 6:57 PM on September 12, 2013

Things are getting worse after more heavy rain today. More and more dams are failing. The Irondale neighborhood of Commerce City and parts of Denver between Lowry and Stapleton are under evacuation orders. All roads in/out of Boulder are closed.
posted by medusa at 7:05 PM on September 12, 2013

oh hai, been on Twitter all day but forgot about MeTa. South Boulder / Martin Acres checking in. We have fairly serious water within a half block of our house on all sides but we appear to be on a small ridge. We are 4 blocks away from Bear Creek and it is... angry, to say the least.

Here is the Storify link that is scraping the #boulderflood hashtags and also posting emergency evac info and maps.

Here and here are some crappy iPhone videos I shot of the flooding near our house - the 2nd link was shot about 200 meters away from our house at the end of our street. The main arterial (Broadway) is closed at Table Mesa and we just saw a BX (Denver-Boulder) regional express bus (that's one of the huge ones that looks like a Greyhound) roll down our street, because it's apparently the only clear route to get through.

CU campus is a mess. I've a friend who's a grad student on the other side near University and she has been on IM with me most of the day posting some hair raising photo updates as she is near Boulder Creek but thankfully about 50-60' up from the banks in a 2nd story apartment.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:27 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Holy yikes! Stay safe!
posted by rtha at 7:51 PM on September 12, 2013

Here is a hair-raising video of a local resident driving Fourmile Canyon from Poorman Rd. to approximately the fire station (I think), showing mudslides, rockfall and debris and water over the road. This clearly demonstrates why you should not be out driving in this stuff tbh.

This is my husband's flickr stream of photos he's shot today around our neighborhood.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:53 PM on September 12, 2013

Western Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are getting hit pretty hard, especially those areas near the burn scar from last year's wildfire. We had some deaths and damage last month from flooding, so we're all pretty gun-shy. Sounds like you folks north have it worse though. Stay safe.
posted by bibliowench at 8:16 PM on September 12, 2013

9 News is reporting that the National Guard has reached Lyons. They were completely cut off for several hours today.

We're safe and dry here in northern Lafayette, but other parts of the town have been evacuated.

One of the buildings at work was partially flooded today and the area had no power for several hours. We've been told to stay home tomorrow.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:08 PM on September 12, 2013

Flood sirens (EAS warning klaxons) just went off again in Boulder @ 10:09 MDT - Boulder Creek is experiencing another peak flood surge. Announcement: MOVE TO HIGH GROUND. DO NOT CROSS BOULDER CREEK.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:13 PM on September 12, 2013

Central Boulder near the creek is being evacuated, from the Boulder OEM:

Evacuation ordered: Mouth of Boulder Canyon to Broadway, Pearl to Marine GO TO HIGHER GROUND immediately
posted by medusa at 9:15 PM on September 12, 2013

Evacuation area map from Boulder OEM.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:04 PM on September 12, 2013

As someone who recently experienced a flooded arroyo in our back yard, please heed the warning:

DO NOT DRIVE YOUR CAR INTO A FLOODED ROADWAY… NO MATTER HOW SHALLOW IT LOOKS. You may get swept down into something much worse.

We have flooding in Southern New Mexico along the Pecos River. Stay safe, CO!
posted by jabo at 10:35 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

NWS just posted on Twitter: "Large wall of water, vehicles, debris coming down Emerson Gulch (4mile Canyon burn area). Go to higher ground!"

If you live in the Front Range flood affected areas, and do not have geolocation services on your phone turned on, and/or EAS notifications turned on, I'd suggest you do so NOW.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:41 PM on September 12, 2013

Just checking in this morning (after not a lot of sleep) to note I'm okay, our house on University Hill survived--though not unscathed. Our basement finally gave way and flooded, and our neighborhood lost all power for most of the night last night.

I woke up to blissful silence rather than the sound of rain, but it still looks grey and cloudy out. Good thoughts for dry weather appreciated.
posted by iminurmefi at 6:48 AM on September 13, 2013

Like my new shiny floor?

Here are the rest of my photos. Still have power/internet though!

This is east Boulder, my street is now South Boulder Creek.
posted by cosmac at 7:25 AM on September 13, 2013

Longmont's also essentially cut off from anything as of this morning.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:16 AM on September 13, 2013

This slideshow is surreal.

So is this photo of the washed-out road along St. Vrain creek.
posted by rtha at 9:25 AM on September 13, 2013

Oh, and I remembered this fpp, about this web thing, Streamer, where you can click on a river or stream and see its upstream or downstream course. Focusing in on the Boulder area and clicking pretty much any skinny blue line and seeing its course is amazing.
posted by rtha at 9:38 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is the St. Vrain by Left Hand brewery. Here's what the river usually looks like.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:49 AM on September 13, 2013

We are fine and drying out a bit up here in SoBo; Bear Creek has receded to almost back within its banks. Quite a few of our neighbors were not so lucky as us however; friends of ours reported that their basement bathroom became a toilet-geyser and they now have several feet of poo-water down there (it's a communal student house and they had roommates living down there, so, ugh). We are going down in a few minutes with more friends to help them dig out. There is also massive structural damage to many roads, bridges and the bike paths as well.

Sun was out for a couple hours but it is clouding up again. Here's hoping we don't get more rain out of this system.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:21 PM on September 13, 2013

I just lost 40 minutes to Streamer.
posted by maryr at 12:46 PM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hey y'all, remember, if you're trying to check in with loved ones, send texts or emails as much as possible and leave the phones open for 911 calls and emergency personnel. And stay safe everyone!
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:26 PM on September 13, 2013

I'm huddling up in Broomfield after spending this week looking for an apartment down south nearer to the Tech Center. Other than some standing water on 225 that nearly gave me heart palpitations as I drove through it, I've been safe and dry. ... And the rain just started here again, after a nice dry afternoon.
posted by rewil at 4:28 PM on September 13, 2013

My aunt lives in Estes Park and my uncle lives in Lyons, so I've been following this news pretty closely. Luckily for them, they both live in elevated parts of town and haven't personally experienced any flooding. I'm pretty proud of both them -- my aunt helped rescue two steers from the corral at the base of her hill that were in danger of drowning, and my uncle's been hosting people from town who got flooded out of their homes, since he still has power and internet somehow.
posted by invitapriore at 5:43 PM on September 13, 2013

Cross your fingers, I was in GJ for a job interview!

I hope all of you and yours are safe and dry. I also hope you get things patched up soon.

I got the job. :-)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:48 PM on September 13, 2013 [9 favorites]

My apartment has 4" of water standing in it. Friends came and moved furniture and we got the carpeting out earlier today. Aaaaand now it's starting to rain again. Exhausted and grateful ... I have friends in Jamestown and our neighbor's house took a direct mud hit. It could have been much worse.
posted by cyndigo at 9:58 PM on September 13, 2013

We're in central Boulder and are okay. Somehow we missed both evacuations, water damage AND power outages. The devastation here is pretty intense, though, and I expect it will be a rough few days as the extent becomes known. This live blog has been a mainstay throughout the emergency.
posted by mynameisluka at 12:49 AM on September 14, 2013

Be safe!
posted by brujita at 12:36 PM on September 14, 2013

In which the Big Thompson River beats up U.S. 34.

Even more are-you-kidding-me.

posted by rtha at 6:42 PM on September 14, 2013

I never thought I'd find my town the subject of one of these posts. Mandanza and I lived in North Boulder, and our apartment was wrecked when four feet of water from a nearby ditch (that's usually just a trickle of water in a concrete gutter at the bottom of a massive, v-shaped ditch but became about as large as Boulder Creek) surged through it Wednesday evening. We evacuated with our laptops, and then came back the next day to salvage some things, mainly clothes and dishes, before it flooded again Thursday evening.

We're staying with family friends now, cleaning salvaged things, and helping my parents clear out their flooded living room and finished basement. All safe, though.
posted by JiBB at 8:55 PM on September 14, 2013

If anybody in the COS area has no power and needs their fridge or freezer ran for a bit; I've got a 2kW generator I can bring by. Memail if needed.
posted by buzzman at 11:18 PM on September 14, 2013

Checking in again. This was posted to twitter not long ago - from the description I believe it is what's left of the main railroad tracks that run between Denver and Winter Park, as it crosses Coal Creek Canyon.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot more major infrastructure damage - the B&N railroad tracks that run behind Ball Aerospace between Foothills and 55th were completely undercut and washed out / hanging in space when my husband and I rode down there on Saturday to check on our offices.

This affects more than just this region. These railroads are some of the major freight highways across the U.S. Many, many container freights run along these routes and it's going to mean major logistical delays for a lot of freight dependent businesses across the U.S.

Several major road routes across the area have also been heavily damaged. It is raining heavily again in Boulder and more worrying, we haven't heard helicopters running (probably grounded for weather / visibility concerns). There are many, many people stranded in mountain communities all along the Front Range, as most of the canyon access roads are simply... gone in places.

If anyone in the Boulder area needs tools, a shop vac, a helping hand, or a dry place to sleep, do not hesitate to contact me. Our house has been so far undamaged by any of this, and we seem to be in a safe area.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:37 AM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's raining hard again in Boulder. Ugh, I'm at the point where I'm scared of rain.
posted by medusa at 11:29 AM on September 15, 2013

I'm listening to police radio right now. There's a lot of new flash flooding going on across the metro area, and they're racing to close streets. If you are safe where you are, please stay there.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:13 PM on September 15, 2013

We're unscathed in Central Boulder. Food, clothing, labor, a place to sleep: Just a Memail away.
posted by mynameisluka at 1:27 PM on September 15, 2013

Last night's rain triggered "roof is leaking, water is pouring in from top and bottom" flood nightmares, which I would rather do without.


In other news, I have food and an oven in my refugee kitchen, and can cook for anyone who needs a hot meal. Just memail.
posted by cyndigo at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2013

I drove out of Lyons on Saturday morning after they told us to get what we need for 2-4 weeks and leave. My place is fine, but a lot of the town south of Main is in bad shape. From the sound of things at the meeting that morning, and talking to some of my neighbors, there are a lot of people who are going to be way too stubborn to leave. Here's hoping they get power and water restored sooner than a month out.

I'm getting the hell out of the state for the rest of the week (I already had the time off for a festival anyway, and I can live out of my car as well there as anywhere), but if anyone around the area needs help with cleanup or whatever else after this coming Sunday, memail me.
posted by brennen at 9:18 AM on September 16, 2013

My truck was scheduled to be in the body shop this week due to some clown backing into me in a parking lot. But that's been pushed back a week so the body shop can deal with their flood related problems.

So, I have a 4 wheel drive Ford F-150 with a cover over the bed if anybody needs help schlepping stuff around. Memail me if you need help.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:00 PM on September 16, 2013

Rainfall totals.
posted by buzzman at 3:18 PM on September 16, 2013

That's insane.
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2013

If the rain was a winter freeze or a summer power outage; the Yamaha EF2000iS might not heat or cool an entire house; but it will keep up with TV/Internet, a small 1250w room heater, a 10k BTU window AC, have a 12v outlet to boost a car battery, or run a 120v sump pump. Not all at once, but at 55dB and 45lbs it is an easy to use and pretty compact tool for emergencies.
posted by buzzman at 11:26 PM on September 16, 2013

The rainfall at a station near my parents' house was 11.5 inches. That's more than half of the *annual* normal precipitation there. Fortunately they are at high ground, but they were visiting me so who knows..
posted by nat at 4:37 PM on September 17, 2013

We've got our own Wiki page.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:42 PM on September 17, 2013

My parents just got home, and they are ok, but their basement is flooded. I'm pretty sure there are family photos etc that would have been down there, although I don't think anything critical was (well, heater and electrical stuff, I guess).
Given that they are ok I don't think they're in urgent need, but if anyone knows about resources for cleanup help in the longer term, I'd like to know about them, and I presume I'm not alone.
posted by nat at 7:36 PM on September 17, 2013

The flooding we experienced has convinced my housemate to finally pull up stakes and move to Steamboat full-time, so I’m out of a home. (I can move anytime, but need to leave by mid-November.)

Please memail me for details ... I'm trying not to freak out.
posted by cyndigo at 9:05 AM on September 25, 2013

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