MULTIMEDIA: Colorado flooding
LYONS, Colo. — Heavy rains and scarring from recent wildfires sent walls of water crashing down mountainsides early Thursday in Colorado, cutting off mountain towns, forcing the University of Colorado to cancel classes. At least three people are reported dead.
This is what AP reporters on the scene Thursday are learning about the unfolding events:
The Boulder County Sheriff’s office is telling people to shelter in place rather than evacuate, because more people are injured in their cars. “Stay home or if they’re in danger climb to higher ground,” said Cmdr. Heidi Prentup. Many area roads are closed.
Dave Finn, who lives near Niwot northwest of Boulder, said he had to knock down a fence to release water that had backed up behind it. He said he destroyed his fence to save his house.
“I’ve never seen it like this. You know, we sort of roll our eyes when they say you have to be prepared for the 100-year flood, so here we are,’” he said.
Heavy rainfall is forecast throughout much of central and northern New Mexico through the weekend, with the possibility of flash flooding.
National Weather Service meteorologist Kerry Jones says it’s likely some areas could see 6 to 10 inches of rain through the weekend.
Some of Thursday’s flooding was exacerbated by wildfire burn scars that have spawned flash floods up and down Colorado’s Front Range this summer. That was particularly true in an area surrounding Jamestown scarred by the Fourmile Fire in 2010, and an area near Waldo Canyon in Colorado Springs to the south, which was hit in 2012.
“This is not an ordinary day, it is not an ordinary disaster. All the preparation in the world...it can’t put people up those canyons while these walls of water are coming down,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.
Rain showers and thunderstorms were expected through Thursday, with possible spot storms capable of dumping an inch of water within a half-hour, the weather service warned.
At a news conference, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said National Guard helicopters are on standby, but they have been grounded because of continuing rain.