A stalled weather system parked itself over the Midwestern United States late last week, dumping over 15 inches of rain in some areas. Flooding quickly resulted, killing at least 4 people and causing the evacuation of thousands.
The floods hardest hit Colorado, with populated areas around Denver and Colorado Springs being engulfed by rising streams and rivers. Evacuations of low-lying areas came quickly and unexpectedly during the early morning hours of Thursday, displacing thousands. Over 12 inches of rain fell in Colorado Springs within a 48-hour period, not only setting the daily rainfall record, but also a monthly rainfall record as well. Creeks and streams in this area rose quickly, overflowing banks by 8 feet or more in some areas.
Flooding in this region, nestled on the far eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, is quite common. Moisture often gets pressed tightly against the steep slopes of the mountains, causing the formation of stationary storms.
The threat of flooding continued through the weekend for much of the state. Storms continued pounding the Denver metropolitan area on Saturday, dumping over 1.7 inches of rain in just 30 minutes. Further rain showers and storms also impacted Colorado Springs.
Most of the significant flooding has since diminished and moved downstream, engulfing many areas that escaped the initial wave of intense rainfall. Flood warnings and further evacuations continued into Sunday.
Damage from the flooding is still widely unknown. Thousands of people were evacuated from flooding areas, and thousands more still remain at risk. As of Saturday evening, five people have been confirmed dead as result by the flooding. Over 1,200 still remain unaccounted for throughout the state. Entire communities were completely destroyed by floodwaters, and nearly 20,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Damage costs are likely to be in the billions.
On the bright side, chances of further precipitation diminish as we continue into this week.
Rescue and cleanup crews have already warned people to stay away from flooded areas, claiming it would take several weeks to repair basic infrastructure and clean up damage. They also expect the death toll to rise as authorities are able to reach all of the flooded areas later this week.