Storm causes road closures in Black Forest, no significant damage

By Andrea Sinclair Published: July 14, 2013 | 9:40 pm 0

A strong storm that prompted flash flood worries for much of the Pikes Peak region Sunday proved to be a near miss, causing some road closures in the Black Forest burn scar, but no significant damage.

Flooding closed Shoup Road and some other thoroughfares in Black Forest around 8:40 p.m. after more than an inch of rain fell Sunday.

El Paso County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Joe Roybal said there was water over roadways, but few other problems had been reported and roads were reopened shortly after.

The storm hit the Black Forest area hard, but stayed mostly east of the Waldo Canyon burn scar, where rain last week caused severe flooding that closed Highway 24 west of Manitou Springs.

Randy Gray, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said 1.5 inches of rain had been reported approximately 6 miles northwest of the Black Forest burn scar by 8 p.m.

Colorado Springs police, fire and emergency crews stood ready to respond. Police Lt. Sean Mandel said up to 50 people from police, fire, traffic and public works crews were on stand-by, patrolling along the burn scar area, focusing on Manitou Springs and along Highway 24.

By 8:45 p.m., Mandel said 12 officers had every zone in the city covered and, although the rains were coming down hard and fast, there had been no reports of debris or overflow in the Colorado Springs area. To be on the safe side, Mandel said, a full response was issued and every officer available was on call to assist.

"Everyone is on the lookout for worsening weather conditions, creek levels, any debris or choke points," Mandel said. "We are prepared to close down streets, with pre-positioned barricades along Highway 24 if necessary."

Manitou Springs Fire Department Capt. Randy Perkins said any flash flooding would be initially handled by local agencies, until outside help was requested.

"Our operations center is up and running, we are in close communication with our incident commanders," Perkins said. Flash flood incidents do not require mass evacuations, as in the case of wildfires, because the water's path is more predictable.

"It's about informing people with enough time in advance so they can take precautionary measures, such as seeking higher ground and securing their valuables," Mandel said. "Residents in areas where flooding has already occurred, however, should definitely be vigilant."

Keeping the public off traffic ways that were in flood paths is critical, Colorado Springs police Lt. Thomas Harris said. Highway 24, Manitou Avenue, Colorado Avenue and any northbound areas from the Waldo Canyon burn scar were top priorities.

"Colorado State Patrol and local police are watching main road arteries for any rising water levels. We are all prepared to block those roads and keep residents off for their own safety."

With the flood warning in place through Sunday night, Mandel said police were keeping a close eye on alerts from the National Weather Service and watching the skies for rain.

"As long as we have a threat, we'll have patrols in all the right places, ready to assist and keep everyone as safe as possible," Mandel said.

Storms were predicted through Monday morning, then expected to clear up by Tuesday.

Colorado Springs has seen a slightly wetter July, with more than half an inch of rain above average for the region. Drought conditions linger, however, as the area has only gotten 4.6 inches of rain since Jan. 1, about half of the 9 inch average.

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