If you know me or have read some of my running posts, you know that I live along Boulder Creek. Maybe 100 yards from it. And today from my front door, you’ll see this:
Yep, that’s the bridge I cross every day to walk to work. The bridge I crossed earlier today.
Boulder is the number one flash flood risk
in state because we’re located at the mouth of a canyon. If a microburst happens at the right location up the canyon, all that water can come rushing down and make a huge mess of this little paradise I’m so blessed to live in.
See that dark blue swath going through the middle? The 100 year floodplain? (Light blue is 500 year floodplain.) That’s Boulder Creek and I’m right in the middle o’ summa dat. Yes, I knew this when I moved in. But it doesn’t keep me up at night. Even with historical images like this.
So if one of those floods is most likely to happen due to a microburst, what’s all the hullabaloo about today? Why’s my commute bridge closed?
Well, the creek’s been running crazy high lately. Like, normally it’s 100-300 cubic feet per second of flow, but yesterday was something like 850 cfs. I went for a run yesterday morning and the creek was OVER the path under Folsom Street and seriously encroaching on the path next to Gold Run and under 28th Street. All of this is because we got a LOT of snow this winter and it’s been very warm recently, so lotsa runoff.
Took this photo today outside the library. There’s a big, round flagstone area there where you can usually sit or dip your feet in the creek. Yes, it’s not a huge river like the Mississippi or something, but remember this is Colorado. This is where rivers are born, so they’re still toddlers by the time they reach our foothills.
Photo from the Daily Camera web site.
With the extra water flow, there’s loads of debris piled up against the bridge, and they’re afraid that when the bridge goes all the backed up water will surge down the canyon and make a big ol’ mess in Boulder. Not to mention all the debris. So all of the creek area was evacuated. Rightly so. And what’s not helping is that there’s rain predicted for this afternoon with some kinda ominous clouds over the mountains…
I don’t know why some crazy people built Boulder right in the middle of this flooding area (actually scratch that – ‘cuz it’s B-E-A-utiful!), but I gotta give HUGE props to folks at the university and city for knowing their stuff when it comes to flood risk.
The way I found out about the bridge collapse and danger along the creek: an e-mail from my housing manager. As soon as I saw that, I checked the Daily Camera’s web site. They didn’t even have anything up yet. That’s how on top of things my complex is.
With the news that the creek path was closing, I asked my boss to give me a ride home before camping this afternoon. Good thing as I saw that bridge closed when I arrived – I would have been stuck on the other side, had to go a long way around. Grabbed all my stuff for the camping trip and threw it in the car. In a catastrophic, 100-year flood my whole place would be toast. But never really thought about a small scale flood. So I decided to also grab a pile of clothes and throw those in the backseat along with a pillow and blanket, my computer, and my grandma’s coin collection. Unplugged stuff and got some other things off the floor.
After that 15 minutes of flurry, what to do before camping? Well, go take a look at the flood, of course! And I wasn’t the only one. Is this an American thing – congregating to the scene of a disaster – or just a human nature thing?
But you know how I said that “props to the city!” thing earlier? They’re totally prepared for something like this, and have educated all the appropriate people. Signs EVERYWHERE. Barriers EVERYWHERE. Yellow plastic tape EVERYWHERE.
And police cars and parks-n-rec vehicles all along the creek area, ready to jump into action and keep people safe if flooding happens. Seriously, Boulder, I’m totally impressed. Sitting in the Borders at Longmont now, blogging this before I go camping in RMNP. Glad to know that if a flood does happen while I’m away, even if my stuff is gone lives will be saved because of your good work.