Denver Breaks Rainfall Record

Overflowing Creek Traps Centennial Residents

Drivers along the Front Range hoping for an uneventful commute Thursday got their wish. More rain was expected throughout the day, and flooding was thrown out as a possibility again -- turning the rush hour into another gush hour -- but the rain never materialized.

Thursday's high was expected to be 66 degrees -- 20 degrees lower than the average for this time of the year, 7NEWS Meteorologist Jessica Jamison said.

Skies will remain party cloudy through the day, Jamison said.

"There will be a threat of heavy rain and flash flooding," Jamison said. "The ground is already saturated so it won't take much water to cause floods. Any more rain that hits is just going to run right off."

Thursdays' low was around 51 degrees. Flash flood warnings were not issued but was expected. Sign up for our Severe Weather Alerts to see if your are will be impacted by any flood watches or warnings.

If you are in or close to the warned area, go to higher ground immediately. People who are along creeks or drainage area should be especially vigilant. Experts say don't attempt to cross swift waters or still water with unknown depths either by foot or by car.

"As little as 6 inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles -- even SUVs and pickups," the National Weather Service warned. "Nearly half of all flood deaths are vehicle-related. If your vehicle stalls in water, abandon it immediately and go to higher ground."

Rainfall Record Broken

Wednesday's slow-moving thunderstorms helped Denver break its 24-hour precipitation record for Aug. 18. Denver had 1.62 inches of rain -- breaking the old record of 0.83 inches set in 1979.

The preliminary rain totals from Wednesday are:

  • Denver Water Department -- 3.51 inches
  • Marston Reservoir -- 3.5 inches
  • Centennial -- 3.37 inches
  • La Junta -- 2.68 inches
  • Sedalia -- 2.4 inches
  • Roxborough State Park -- 2.2 inches
  • Englewood -- 2.13 inches
  • Aurora/Eaglecrest, -- 2.11 inches
  • Lakewood -- 2.11 inches
  • Wheat Ridge -- 2.07 inches
  • Louisville-- 1.98 inches
  • Ralston Reservoir -- 1.95 inches
  • Gross Reservoir -- 1.75 inches
  • Northglenn -- 1.72 inches
  • DIA -- 1.69 inches
  • Loveland -- 1.69 inches
  • Morrison -- 1.65 inches
  • Castle Rock -- 1.62 inches
  • Pueblo -- 1.61 inches
  • Elizabeth -- 1.49 inches
  • Brighton -- 1.40 inches
  • Longmont -- 1.2 inches
  • Indian Hills -- 1.15 inches
  • Estes Park -- 1.1 inches
  • Fort Collins -- 1.06 inches
  • Colorado Springs -- 1.08 inches
  • Evergreen -- 0.89 inches
  • Georgetown -- 0.75 inches
  • Boulder -- 0.72 inches
  • Breckenridge -- 0.72 inches
  • Limon -- 0.51 inches
  • Parker -- 0.25 inches

The heaviest rainfall was reported in Denver County and Western Arapahoe County, with rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches of rain in just two hours.

Areas Washed Out

Much of the metro area was under water Wednesday afternoon and some areas are still washed out.

The driver of this white BMW tried to drive across the rushing water but his car was swept downstream.

At Piney Creek Ranch in Centennial the overflowing creek trapped at least 25 families on the other side of the road. The driver of a white BMW (pictured, left) tried to drive across the rushing water but his car was swept downstream. The driver escaped without injuries.

There are signs in the neighborhood warning about the high water but people who live in the area say they've never seen flooding like it.

"It was pretty profound. It's a little bit frightening for some of the people around here. This (road) is the only access and they've been trying to get the county to do something about this for a number of years, so they're a little bit frustrated," neighbor Cindy Loehr said.

Neighbors say there are several families with small children and many animals on the other side of the creek. Their big fear is what to do in case of an emergency. They say when the water subsides, they will ask county officials for a solution.

The intense rainfall snarled the evening rush hour along the Front Range as drivers tried to pass flooded sections of Interstates 25 and Interstate 70, where water was sometimes as high as a car's bumpers.

The relentess rain that fell within that short amount of time overwhelmed many streets and roads, leaving many drivers stranded.

Drenched drivers and passengers in waterlogged cars walk in high water.

Firefighters were called to 46th Street under the I-70 overpass to rescue a driver trapped on top of his roof. They saved the man just minutes before the water completely covered his pickup truck.

Similar situations popped up all over the region, although the water never reached the 6-foot level. Many drivers thought they were invincible and plowed through high water. And that meant firefighters were left rescuing or pushing motorists out of flooded intersections. Denver police put the county on accident alert status to free up officers to deal with all of the water rescues and emergencies.

At I-70 and York, there was a virtual waterfall on the left side of the overpass. Storm drains clogged in several neighborhoods, and Cherry Creek overflowed onto the neighboring bike path downtown.

Denver police and firefighters closed down many roads Wednesday night because they were unsafe for traffic. Because rain continued to fall overnight some roadways may still be closed. Authorities say it's best to pay attention to roadblocks and take detours when necessary, even if it means being a few minutes late.

The rain also triggered some mudslides along Cottonwood Pass Road near Buena Vista and some people were evacuated because of the threat of more mudslides.

The storm has also caused power problems and forced the closures of two southwest Denver schools -- Traylor Academy and John F. Kennedy High School.

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