Colorado hit by record-breaking heatwaves, mudslides

Washington, Jul 31 (IANS): Colorado's unpredictable 2021 summer weather showcased an extraordinary week, where record high temperatures were registered in the US state, while monsoon-like weather in the mountains triggered record numbers of mudslides.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flash flood watch on Friday through Saturday evening across a vast stretch of the centennial State, including most of the mountains and even the state capital Denver, reports Xinhua news agency.

"As much as 2 to 3 inches of rain could fall in some spots this weekend or much of it could fall in a short period of time due to slow moving storms," 9News said on Friday.

"That's unfortunately a good recipe for flash flooding."

Local officials are taking extreme precautions after flash floods in northern Colorado claimed lives.

Just one week ago, "a flash flood rushed down the Cameron Peak fires burn scar and surprised a Wisconsin family who had been vacationing in Colorado for 27 years", according to the Denver Post.

"The bodies of two men and one woman have been recovered after floodwaters swept through Poudre Canyon," KMGH-TV reported on Tuesday.

The NWS's latest "flash flood threat" area covered hundreds of square kilometres in Colorado, the entire Rocky Mountain range, and the western half of the state from Denver to the Utah border.

"The biggest threat for flash flooding is over the burn scars including the Cameron Peak, East Troublesome, Williams Fork and Calwood fires, that have an elevated threat for flash flooding and mudslides," the NWS said on Friday.

The Grizzly Creek fire started in August 2020 in Glenwood Canyon and burned more than 32,000 acres of the scenic canyon.

On Friday, the entire scorched area remained under a flash flood warning through the weekend, the NWS said.

On Thursday night, at least 20 people were trapped in their vehicles in Glenwood Canyon on I70, until they could be escorted out, according to the Garfield County Sheriff's office.

I70 is the main artery for ground transportation running east to west 360-miles across the Centennial State and had been closed several times in June and July after mudslides covered the roadway, sometimes trapping vehicles between slides, The Weather Channel said.

I70, a famous American highway, stretches 2,171 miles (3,493 kilometers) from Baltimore, Maryland into Utah, is the only mode of travel through Colorado's Rocky Mountains.

A week ago, a massive debris flow in Glenwood Canyon closed the interstate in both directions for two days, the longest such closure on record.

Thus far in 2021, the states of California, Oregon and Washington had been devastated by more than 100 large fires, according to Inciweb, the Interagency Command Center, but not Colorado.

Last year, Colorado witnessed the worse wildfire season in its history, with the three largest fires ever torching more than 400,000 acres of land, Inciweb said.

In 2021 however, early monsoon weather have dampened forests.

A week of steady nightly rain have lashedthe Rockies, especially at higher elevations, according to weather observers in Marble, Colorado.

On Wednesday, Denver recorded a fifth day this year above 37.8 degrees Celsius, tying a record.

The only other years to have five or more 100-degree days in a single year are 2018, 2012, 2006 and 1936. Denver weather records date back to 1872.

Denver averages less than one 100-degree day per year, based on long-term observations dating back to 1872.

Also, Denver's daily record of about 36.7 degree Celsius was broken on Wednesday as well.

That record dated back to July 28, 1876 - just four days before Colorado officially gained statehood.



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