A man holds his head by the mouth of Big Thompson Canyon near Hwy 34, which was severely damaged by flooding water through the canyon. Loveland, Colorado, 17 September 2013. Photo: Hyoung Chang / The Denver Post

By Alyssa A. Botelho
17 September 2013

(New Scientist) – A truly ferocious and exceptional event. That is how Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, describes the storm that pummelled his state last week.

"This was a once-in-1000-year rainfall," he says, meaning that the storm was of such an intensity and duration that it had a 1-in-1000 chance of occurring in any given year in Colorado.

The rains and subsequent floods have so far killed eight people, displaced 11,750 and destroyed close to 18,000 homes. The city of Boulder received a year's rainfall in less than a week, says Daniel Leszcynski at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That huge volume was due in part to a lingering heatwave that for months blocked tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico from reaching the Rocky Mountains, he says. When that heatwave began to move east last week, weak winds allowed the growing storm system to sit above the Colorado peaks for days.

Once that deluge hit the ground, more trouble awaited. Because of Colorado's mountainous terrain, the region is flood-prone anyway but recent wildfires exacerbated things near Boulder and Fort Collins, two areas hardest hit by floodwaters. The fires had cleared land of vegetation that would normally absorb rainwater, says Trenberth.

Urban areas were also hit hard because of their abundance of impenetrable surfaces, says Matthew Kelsch from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Cities have drainage systems designed to move water off streets and into streams as quickly as possible," he says. [more]

Heatwave and wildfires worsened Colorado flooding

1 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    It's quite ridiculous that we keep being reminded that it's a "once in a 1000 years" or "once in 500 years" event. Not an "event" at all.

    Pretty obvious that this will happen again, probably within just 10 years.

    The reason this is true is found everywhere else - unusual weather patterns, intense storms, huge rainfall, etc., etc., the dreaded "climate change" fact that is a present and worsening reality.

    The media is doing the entire world a terrible disservice with these misleading headlines. This sort of irresponsible reporting fits right in with their idiotic coverage of most climate change events (and all the other lopsided coverage we're dished up as "news").

    Anytime you see a natural weather disaster, stop thinking "unique event" and start thinking "this is the new normal".

    It is simply no longer possible to predict the climate anymore, except "worse" and "worse yet".

    The trapped heat energy in the atmosphere and ocean is staggeringly huge. How huge? Watch this video from Peter Sinclair:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9euZ6q4bEKs

    Now do the math, using Sinclairs energy imbalance impacting the Earth:

    The Hiroshima ‘Little Boy’ 16+/- Kiloton A-bomb ” vaporized a 1 mile radius & heavily damaged a 3 mi. radius (moderate damage to 12 mi. radius)

    3 mile radius = 28.274 sq mi
    @ 400,000/day = 11,309,600 sq mi/day

    Earth’s surface area 510,066,000 sq km = 196,937,584 sq mi (includes 71% water)
    total surface area / heavy damage radius equivalence = 17.41 days

    So, every 17.4 days, every square mile of Earth’s surface area ‘gains’ the energy equivalence of a 16 Kiloton A-bomb (in the heavy damage radius)
    for 21 times per year or 335 kilo-ton equivalents everywhere annually – and rising.

    Bye bye bipeds.

    Earth’s land surface area = 148,326,000 sq km = 57,268,989 sq mi
    total area/damage radius = 5.06 days

    Hard to comprehend.

    So in lieu of the dreaded “nuclear winter”, we get “nuclear heatstroke” instead.

    The energy imbalance is STUPENDOUS. The hydrological cycle is now drastically altered and this means gigantic storms. All that evaporation MUST come down somewhere.

    Mexico just got hit - harder than Colorado with more damage, more deaths for example.

    Much more to come. ~Survival Acres~  

 

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