Rocky Mountain News
To print this page, select File then Print from your browser

Major floods in Colorado

May 16, 2002

Sept. 4, 1938 -- Morrison bore the brunt of the most destructive flood in its history. Great walls of water roared down Bear Creek and Mount Vernon canyons after terrific cloudbursts in the Bergen and Genesee Park areas. The flood literally smashed the business section of the town lose from its foundation and left six people dead. Morrison residents immediately considered abandoning the town on the banks of Bear Creek, which had brought it misery and death repeatedly over the previous 40 years. Days later, during a town meeting, the residents decided instead to work to obtain federal funds to establish a flood-control project.

June 16, 1965 -- Black Wednesday, the day Denver was hit by the worst natural disaster in the city's history. After a cloudburst that dumped 15 inches of water on mountain slopes southwest of Denver, a devastating flood struck 20 counties, including Denver along the South Platte River. Twenty-five people were killed, and property damage was estimated at more than $500 million.

July 31, 1976 -- Rainstorms converged over the Big Thompson Canyon, creating a flash flood that surged down the canyon, smashing homes and businesses, killing 145 people and inflicting $35 million in damage. An estimated 3,000 people were in homes, motels and campgrounds in the canyon when the storms hit. Few received any warning about the flood. Most of the 145 killed were found in their cars or inside buildings that collapsed.

July 28, 1997 -- Fort Collins received the heaviest rain ever recorded by an urban area in Colorado. Periods of heavy rainfall stretched over 30 hours, the worst of it on the evening of July 28, when 10 inches fell in six hours on portions of west Fort Collins and in Spring Creek. The waters swept through parts of the city, leaving five people dead, 140 families homeless, 90 businesses destroyed and 2,600 homes and businesses damaged. Major facilities at Colorado State University, including its library, were swamped.

Compiled by News librarian Carol Kasel.

Copyright 2002, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.