A very eventful – and sad – day in Denver weather history. We see the usual array of thunderstorms, flooding and hail as we do have happen this time of year. However, the most notable event was ten years ago today when a firefighter drowned while trying to rescue a motorist stranded in a flooding street.
– Please remember your flood safety: Turn Around, Don’t Drown
From the National Weather Service:
From the 16th to the 19th:
In 1979…heavy thunderstorm rains on each of 4 consecutive days dumped a total of 2.62 inches of rain on Stapleton International Airport. The heaviest rain…1.05 inches… On the 19th was accompanied by 1/4 inch diameter hail.
On the 17th:
In 1953…a tornado was sighted 8 miles east of Castle Rock. An unconfirmed tornado was sighted between Denver and Strasburg. No damage was reported.
In 1963…heavy rain in southeast Denver…Englewood…and Littleton caused flooding of basements and streets. Over 3.00 inches of rain fell at Cherry Creek Dam. Lightning caused power failures. The hardest hit areas were in north- central Denver. A 12-year-old boy was swept into a conduit by a 3-foot high crest of water. He was carried 125 feet through the waterway…but was unhurt. Thunderstorm rainfall totaled only 0.24 inch at Stapleton Airport.
In 1972…a thunderstorm wind gust to 53 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport. Strong winds also occurred in the Littleton area where several trees and utility poles were blown over and a number of windows broken.
In 1978…1 3/4 inch diameter hail was reported in Thornton.
In 1982…heavy rain occurred in the foothills southwest of Denver where 4.50 inches fell in 75 minutes between Evergreen and Conifer. Nearby…2.66 inches of rain drenched the North Turkey Creek Canyon area in just 15 minutes.
In 1984…scattered slow moving thunderstorms dumped heavy rain across southern metro Denver. The heavy rain caused some road washouts in Jefferson and Douglas counties. A bridge was washed out in Douglas County. Three inches of rain fell in just an hour at Castle Rock…causing heavy silt damage to a home and to nearby drainage ditches.
In 1988…a thunderstorm dumped 2 to 3 inches of rain in southeast Denver and adjacent areas of Arapahoe County in less than 90 minutes. There was widespread street flooding…and I-25 was closed by 4 feet of water near its intersection with I-225 just south of Denver. A flood control project in Arapahoe County at greenwood village sustained over 10 thousand dollars damage. Up to 4 feet of water flooded some basements in the area. Only 0.44 inch of rain fell at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1990…heavy thunderstorm rains over the Boulder creek and St. Vrain creek drainage basins caused many creeks and drainage ditches to rise in eastern Boulder and southwest Weld counties. The high waters punched three 30-foot holes in the embankment of a drainage ditch…which traversed through the town of firestone…20 miles north of Denver. A sheet of water 2 to 3 feet deep rushed out onto the streets of firestone…forcing the evacuation of a trailer park and residents from 50 neighboring homes. No injuries or serious damage occurred except for mud and water damage. Lightning struck and injured 4 construction workers standing in an Aurora field. They received treatment for minor injuries at a local hospital. Lightning also struck the roof of a Methodist church in central Denver… Knocking down the highest peak of the steeple. A half dozen people were in the building…but no one was injured. Slow moving thunderstorms dumped 2 to 3 inches of rain over southeast Aurora in 90 minutes. The heavy rain accumulated on the roof of a condominium clubhouse…causing the roof to collapse under the weight of the water. Nearly 300 residents were evacuated from the 200-unit complex because of the structural damage. The residents were allowed to return to their homes when it was determined the damage was confined to the clubhouse. No injuries were reported.
In 1993…just west of Fort Lupton…thunderstorm winds blew the tin roof off a cattle shelter into a mobile home… Causing considerable damage to the mobile home.
In 1997…lightning struck a home in Castle Rock sparking a fire. Damage was estimated at 20 thousand dollars.
In 2000…thunderstorms producing very heavy rain…up to 3.50 inches in spots…caused flooding and flash flooding across metro Denver. In Commerce City…a 37-year-old firefighter drowned while attempting to rescue a stranded motorist on a flooded street. The firefighter was wading through the water when he lost his footing and was sucked into a 10 foot deep culvert. He was swept away before anyone could reach him. Extensive flooding was also reported throughout Littleton and north Denver.