To put this week's storm in perspective:
October 5, 1911:Durango's worst recorded flooding. The Animas river flowed at an estimated 25,000cfs. Areas in San Juan County at the headwaters of the Animas saw 4-8 inches over 36 hours. Durango received 3.42" Take a look at the Durango Herald article from the 100 year anniversary of the flood.
September 9, 1970:Durango again received over 3". This time over 4" fell over Vallecito and Lemon. Take a look at this report of that storm, It is very, very similar to this week's monsoonal storms except that in 1970 storms pushed NE into us instead of N into Utah. In 1970, the Animas was estimated at 11,600cfs, and 1,700 on the Hermosa. At the bottom of the page are some pictures from the aftermath of the 1970 storm.
Almost every year isolated storms cause flooding or debris flows somewhere:Animas valley, Vallecito Ck, Texas Ck, Pine River, La Plata River, Junction Ck, Lightner Ck, and Hermosa Ck. are all susceptible. Flows come from from long duration events or big downpours. We have had mud and debris flows on almost every drainage along the Animas Valley north of Durango and many others that occur from sudden cloud bursts. Debris flows are unpredictable, can change path at any time and are incredibly powerful.
If it happens today:If we had a 1911 flood today these things would be likely:
- Hwy 160 would be impassable at La Plata River, Animas River, Dry Creek, Florida River and Pine River at Bayfield.
- Hwy 550, and CR 203, 501, 213, 172, 250, 240, 204, 205, 140, 141 and others will be impassable.
- The Animas would come over Main St. near the intersection with Camino Del Rio.
- Numerous roads, culverts and bridges, both public and private would be damaged or destroyed.
- The railroad will be inundated and damaged in multiple areas.
- Phone, internet (including most cell phones), electricity, natural gas, water and sewer systems would be damaged or incapacitated.
- Responders and crews would likely be busy with their own family or stranded, making help and repairs difficult.
- Credit and bank cards won't work without phone or internet.
- Gas pumps don't work without power.
- Supply chains for fuel, food, propane, etc. will be delayed or cut off.
- Methane (gas well) gathering systems may be compromised.
- Your water well, water treatment, city sewage, and many other water systems don't work without power (some systems luckily have generators).
- Homes and businesses will be flooded or washed away.
- and more...
Look around your home and your place of work.
- What hazards threaten you? Floods, flash floods, wind, snow, fire?
- What in your home depends on electricity? Lights, your gas heater, water well, medical equipment, cell phone charger, community water, community sewer?
- What depends on internet? Land line phones, 911, cell phones (sometimes even the address book!), fuel for vehicles, ATM machines, email?
The answer is yes in most cases! This may sound scary at first, but there are ways to reduce the worry. The better you understand your surroundings and the better prepared you are, the less you have to worry about the hazards around you.
Places to find more information:
- La Plata County GIS viewer
- On a desktop or laptop go to http://lpcgis.laplata.co.us/LaPlataSL/ click on Maps> I want to see> FEMA Floodplain
- On a mobile device go to http://lpcgis.laplata.co.us/LaPlataJS/ click on Maps>Map Themes>FEMA Floodplain
- Then search for or zoom to your address to see if you are in a FEMA Mapped Flood Hazard Area
- Come to the Building Department at the County Courthouse to see if you are in a geohazard area
- Ready,Gov floods http://www.ready.gov/floods
- Video from Colorado Geologic Survey on debris flows and alluvial fans COGS Video and their main page www.colorado.gov/geosurvey
For all and any emergency you need to have a plan. Have 3-5 days of medicine, food and water you your household. Teach your family how to find each other. Have a go kit ready in case you have to leave at a moment's notice. Protect important documents from a potential loss of your home.
Junction Ck Road washout
Animas Valley flooding