Gallinas River in Las Vegas NM, September 13, 2013
Estes Park, CO, September 13, 2013
Rio Rancho - Southern - Flood
flood in Las Vegas NM
Colorado and New Mexico are getting hammered by unusual (for September) rainfalls, deluges if you will, inundations, quite frankly, that have spared little of the southern Rockies from flooding and washouts. In parts of Colorado and New Mexico, entire communities are isolated, surrounded by or cut off by flood waters.
Emergency Services is... stunned.
We're in the Estancia Basin, a level plain, rather high in elevation but not mountainous, though we are just east of the backsides of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains. Though we've had a lot of rain recently, the water has mostly soaked into the ground, and we haven't experienced floods right here. (There is a leak in our roof, however!)
The run off from the mountains has caught some people off-guard and I'm sure there've been some harrowing adventures as the rains have poured from the skies and run down the mountainsides.
Many areas of Albuquerque, the pueblos north of town, the Roswell area, Carlsbad, and Truth or Consequences to the south, and other widely scattered areas of New Mexico have been hard-hit by flash flooding and rivers rising, to the point where Susana la Tejana, Our Governor, has declared the entire state a disaster area. Well. Who'd a thunk it? She's actually been pretty good during disasters, given her sometimes rigid R politics.
But whatever is happening in New Mexico -- and I haven't caught up on the overnight news -- it has been much worse in parts of Colorado, particularly in the Front Range and in the Denver metro area. Much worse.
For the residents there, it has got to be literally terrorizing.
By now, most of us are used to weather of some sort. We've been living with the consequences of Climate Change for ten-fifteen years or so, and most of us are used to the weather being "different" than we remember it previously, or than "normal" or "expected" weather patterns.
I think I first wrote about it extensively (but I won't look up the posts now) some years back in reference to the significant increase in rainfall and the lessening of winter fogs in California's Central Valley after the last drought broke about five years ago. Summer heat waves seemed to subside as well, and winter temperatures were not as cold. Central Valley conditions, in other words, had substantially moderated from what we had been used to for many years. I referred to it like this: "it's as if we'd suddenly moved 700 miles north into the rainforests."
It certainly had an effect on flora and fauna as well. There seemed to be an explosion of urban wildlife. The urban forests were becoming overgrown and fire hazards. It seemed like there was no time for anything to dry out properly. The rains were causing roads to crumble. There was rain in the summertime, something so rare previously as to be considered freakish. There were actual tornadoes in the spring and fall, something weather-people had long declared to be "impossible" in the Central Valley. And so on. Some of the storms that came through were of hurricane force, causing widespread damage.
Meanwhile in New Mexico and the Rockies, there was terrible and lingering drought, parched landscapes as far as the eye could see, no rain for months and months, and when it did rain, the moisture was hardly enough to dampen the ground. But we had some "real" rains starting at the end of a very hot June this year. They were daily and sometimes heavy for several weeks and then tapered off to nothing. We thought the rainy season had been brief and inadequate to break the drought. It seemed to be over before September came. That's not to say there weren't weather incidents, like the "hurricane" that whipped through the Rio Grande Valley surprising the heck out of every one and causing an enormous amount of damage. But they passed quickly, and there was little thought at the time that they may be harbingers...
Little did we know.
The last few days have brought torrential rains to parts of New Mexico and Colorado, and with the rains has come "Biblical" flooding.
The videos and images at the top of the post give a hint of what it's been like. Parts of the Denver metro area seem to be sitting in newly formed lakes of water. Rivers that never seemed to have more than a trickle are raging torrents. Dams have burst, roads are washed out, houses, people, animals and vehicles washed away.
"Biblical?" Well, no, not really. Not yet anyway.
But the rains are continuing today and possibly for the rest of the weekend. Many people who have spent much or all their lives in the region say they've never seen anything like this, ever, never even heard of anything like it before.
A couple of months ago, we were worried to pieces because of what seemed to be an unending drought.
I think we can say the drought is broken. At least for now...