Predicting extreme weather still eludes researchers

May 26, 2015
Photo: Before/after floods 11a
A local woman walks in an evacuated neighborhood where many homes are inundated with water from overflowing canals after days of flash floods and intense rain, in Hygeine, Colo., Sunday Sept. 15, 2013. 

New research on severe weather in Colorado shows that big storms don’t always align with long-term averages or seasonal expectations. The report from the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a warning to emergency planners to expect the unexpected when it comes to Colorado’s weather. 

"When you’re doing things like risk analysis studies, it just underscores that you don’t want to just limit yourself to one season of risk," explained NOAA researcher Kelly Mahoney.

The huge floods of 2013, for example, hit at a typically dry time of year. The study also notes that while winter snowstorms are common in Colorado’s mountains, damaging rains can also hit the high country at other times of year.