EAGLE COUNTY — It may seem like this summer has been more moist than the summer of 2012, and a wet week here and massive Front Range flooding may have strengthened that impression. But here, perception isn’t reality.
Flooding along the Front Range on Thursday is very real, of course. At least three people died in those floods, numerous homes were destroyed and several roads and highways have been washed out.
While emergency crews are working overtime in Boulder, Larimer and El Paso counties, few, if any local police or firefighters from this area made the trip east to help out.
Jody Acres, the Western Slope coordinator for the American Red Cross, said she and other volunteers from the region were getting ready to go, primarily to relieve other Red Cross people already working on the Front Range.
Acres said the Front Range floods were mostly in areas where emergency responders expected them to be, which makes relief planning a little easier. The problem, she said, is simply getting into devastated areas.
Recent rainy weather
The past few days of rainy weather in Eagle County have brought some minor flooding, but it’s been minor, and generally in places where water usually flows. Besides some mudslides on Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6 between Wolcott and Eagle, Eagle County emergency services coordinator Barry Smith said there have been other small slides and floods up Gypsum Creek and Brush Creek, as well as up Sweetwater Creek.
The Sweetwater area was the scene of a large flash flood in July of 2012. Smith said thunderstorms in that area have led to some minor but persistent slides in the area this summer.
“They’ve been dealing with mud issues (in Sweetwater) for a month,” Smith said, adding that the ditches alongside the roads keep filling up with debris when thunderstorms send water cascading down slide zones.
Less rainfall for Vail
Local fire crews have also spent the past couple of weeks chasing lightning strikes, Smith said.
But the reality of this summer is that the county’s wettest area — Vail — has actually received less rainfall than it did in July and August of 2012. According to records from the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office, Vail received 0.4 inches less rain in August of this year than in 2012. The July total was 1.3 inches less than 2012’s rainfall.
Signs for coming winter?
The big rains this week and even bigger rains on the Front Range have many local residents wondering if these storms might be a harbinger of white, fluffy moisture to come later.
“Unfortunately, this is a summer pattern, and it has no bearing on the fall/winter patterns,” National Weather Service forecaster Tom Renwick said.
So we have to wait. Until then, the forecast looks to clear up into a warm, sunny fall pattern next week, Renwick said.
“Of course, that’s what the forecast called for last week,” he said.
“Unfortunately, this is a summer pattern, and it has no bearing on the fall\/winter patterns.”
National Weather Service forecaster