LOVELAND, Colo. - A flash flood warning was issued overnight after water flows from the Big Thompson River reached levels higher than were reached during the 1976 Big Thompson flood.
The 1976 flash flood killed 144 people.
The National Weather Service characterized the flash flood emergency as "life threatened" and urged residents to seek higher ground. NWS said the flow in the Big Thompson was greater than it was in the 1976 flood.
"Observed flooding changed from 'major' to 'record severity' for the North Fork of the Big Thompson River at Drake.
Flood waters in the canyon and in the City of Loveland were expected to rise through sunrise and flooding was expected to move east into Weld County.
Flooding was also occurring early Friday on the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins. Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith told 7NEWS all bridges over the Poudre River in Fort Collins have been closed as a safety precaution.
At 2:30 a.m., the City of Fort Collins tweeted this alert: "Residents in Andersonville, Alta Vista and Buckingham neighborhoods advised to evacuate, shelter at Timberline Church.
"To get to the shelter from Andersonville and Alta Vista: Go south on Lemay Avenue, east on Lincoln Avenue and south on Timberline Road. To get to the shelter from Buckingham: Go east on Lincoln Avenue and south on Timberline Road.
"Residents who do not have transportation should call 970-221-6540. Other residents should evacuate as soon as possible. No pets are allowed at the church."
At about 1:45 a.m., Sheriff Smith posted this on his Facebook page: "We are getting word of bridge losses in southern Larimer County crossing Little Thompson River. Most recent info is bridges out at County Rd 21 and County Rd 4 as well as the bridge on County Rd 17 between County Rd 2E and County Rd 4E."
The National Weather Service also issued a flood warning for the Poudre River.
Earlier in the evening, Larimer County issued the following advisory:
"Residents along the Poudre River corridor from Stove Prairie to the Larimer/Weld County line are advised to monitor water conditions as the river is expected to reach moderate flood stage during early morning hours on Friday. We recommend you take measures to evacuate or be prepared to move to high ground. At this time traffic can move east from Poudre Park. There is a shelter at Timberline Church in Fort Collins. Please don't call 911 unless you have another emergency."