Flash Flood Risk High Today As Storms Roll Across Cameron Peak Burn Scar, Other Parts Of The State

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado State Patrol and CDOT crews manage evacuees coming out of the Poudre Canyon at Ted’s Place near Fort Collins after the Larimer Sheriff’s Office ordered the canyon evacuated ahead of a flash flood Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

Updated at 5:43 p.m.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office reported a flood in Tenmile Canyon west of Officer’s Gulch. A bike path connecting from Fraser to Copper Mountain through the canyon is closed. 

The National Weather Service has also issued a flash flood warning for the Williams Fork burn area — near Winter Park.

The National Weather Service has also issued a flood warning for a large area of Clear Creek County including Central City and Idaho Springs. Meteorologists say some areas have seen three inches of rain this afternoon. They warn people to avoid any flooded roads and move to higher ground if necessary.

Original story follows below.

The National Weather Service is warning Coloradans that slow-moving storms with heavy rainfall could trigger dangerous flash floods, mudslides and debris flows across parts of the state this afternoon and evening.

Forecasters in Boulder say the biggest risk is concentrated around the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in areas burned by last year’s Cameron Peak wildfire, but they’re also issuing warnings about an elevated risk of flash floods in other burn scars, including the East Troublesome north of Kremmling, the Calwood east of Yampa and the Williams Fork fire southwest of Fraser. The biggest risk is from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. forecasters said.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo also issued a warning about an increased flash flood risk in the burn scar near Hayden Pass and areas south of Salida burned by the 2019 Decker Fire.

Burn scars are more vulnerable to flash flooding because water flows more quickly through areas where plants and trees have been torched. Soil in burn scars also repels water more easily, fueling a rapid flow that can pick up and carry damaging debris.

One person died Tuesday night after a flash flood near the Cameron Peak burn scar in the upper part of Poudre Canyon northwest of Fort Collins. Three people are still missing and at least five homes were destroyed in the flood, Larimer County Sheriff’s officials said.

CPR News reporter Sam Brasch contributed to this report.