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Flash flood warning in effect; scattered rain falling

By: matt steiner
September 13, 2013 Updated: September 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm
photo - Cars sit in a flooded driveway as Cheyenne Creek flows over its banks and into the surrounding creekside properties Friday, September 13, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Cars sit in a flooded driveway as Cheyenne Creek flows over its banks and into the surrounding creekside properties Friday, September 13, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette  

The National weather service has issued a flash flood warning effective until 9 p.m.

Scattered showers have fallen off and on today in the Colorado Springs area.


More rainfall late Thursday and early Friday in the Pikes Peak region damaged some homes in southwest Colorado Springs, flooded some businesses in Manitou Springs, left thousands of utility customers without power and washed out small sections of a few roads.

No one died overnight, but the region endured another day of unseasonably wet weather that has ravaged many areas north of Monument Hill. In a post-storm assessment the city of Colorado Springs reported "extensive damage" to Gold Camp Road and Cheyenne Road, including "multiple homes along Cheyenne Creek."

As the city's residents dug out and mopped up from the latest of Mother Nature's summer-long assault, they had to gird themselves for more rain that is expected during the weekend. The sheer volume of moisture received in the past few days is impressive, given that September historically is a dry month.

While weather spotters in some parts of the city were reporting more than 10 inches of rain from early morning Thursday to 7 a.m. on Friday, the official National Weather Service total was 1.61 inches during that span for Colorado Springs.

That number easily eclipsed September's average precipitation of 1.19 inches and pushed the month's total to 1.97 inches.

Flows pouring down the mountains from Teller County and out of the Waldo Canyon burn scar left creeks pouring over their banks, flooding streets, washing out roads and leaving several thousand people without power.

The hardest hit area was along West Cheyenne Road in southwest Colorado Springs where Cheyenne Creek not only flooded the area, but sent tons of mud and debris pouring into road and homes.

Colorado Springs officials called a voluntary evacuation of The Ivy at Cheyenne Creek apartments where seven people chose to evacuate. They went to the Red Cross shelter at First Presbyterian Church on Weber Street in downtown. The Red Cross reported that 10 people used the shelter Thursday night.

Just south of Cheyenne Road, about 2,200 Colorado Springs Utilities customers were left without power early Friday morning after small electric boxes around the city were infiltrated with water from the heavy rains, CSU spokesman Steve Berry said.

All effected in that area had power restored within 90 minutes, but Berry said there were much smaller sporadic outages throughout the city on Thursday.

The largest power failure in the region happened in Fountain where about 4,000 customers were without electricity Friday morning.

Erin Garcia, a spokeswoman with Fountain Utilities, said the outage happened when rushing water in Fountain Creek near downtown knocked over a pair of power poles near the channel.

The outage happened just before 4 a.m., she said. Power was restored around 5:30 a.m.

The heaviest rainfall locally occurred south of Colorado Springs.

One road washout stranded about a dozen households above a raging torrent west of Colo. 115.

Fast-moving water and debris made a 300-foot to 500-foot section of Rock Creek Canyon Road impassable after a storm moved through Thursday night, said Max Kirshbaum, operations director for the El Paso County Public Services Department.

A creek normally crosses under the road there, but "at some point last night, it became a pretty fast moving river," he said Friday afternoon.

Water also washed out a portion of Lower Gold Camp Road between the two tunnels, and it overwhelmed a culvert on Old Stage Road, carving a hole six to eight feet deep and 10 to 15 feet across, Kirshbaum said.

The most rainfall came at Fort Carson where officials at the U.S. Army post said they received from 10 to 13 inches of rain Thursday.

Meghan Williams, a Fort Carson spokeswoman, said some buildings have been flooded and two facilities were left without power Friday morning. Iron Horse Park on the base was flooded with what officials have called a "seven-foot lake."

All training in the southern part of the base was cancelled Friday because of several washed out roads and dangerous water crossings, Williams said.

Most Thursday rain totals for the region were in the 2.5- to 5-inch range, according to the National Weather Service. Monument had more than 6.5 inches in some spots. Falcon received 2.3 inches. And Woodland Park spotters reported more than 1.5 inches.

The storm prompted Colorado Springs to close North Cheyenne Canyon Park, Garden of the Gods Park, Rock Ledge Ranch and all of its urban trail system. The Folk Arts Festival that was scheduled to take place Friday through Sunday at Rock Ledge Ranch will go on Saturday but officials cautioned that weather could force cancellation of Sunday's events.

The city also cancelled many of its weekend recreation sports leagues because city parks were in a very soggy state. Adult softball throughout the city and adult flag football baseball leagues and middle school tackle football at Memorial Park were also called off for the weekend.

While Manitou Springs had been the focus of flash floods in July and August, the brunt of Thursday's storm was widespread. But Manitou Springs didn't get away from this latest weather blast unscathed.

Fountain Creek breached its banks on Friday morning, flooding the basements of several buildings as it poured onto Lovers Lane.

About three feet of water flooded into the basement of Goldminer's Nuts & Candy, which is on Canon Avenue, said Manny Vasquez, the store's owner.

He had to close the store for six days following the Aug. 9 flood, which left about twice as much water in his basement. He was closed again Friday due to the fact that his building had no power.

"I was hoping to open today -- at least make a couple hundred bucks," Vasquez said.

He added, though, that he doesn't plan to move from his spot on Canon Avenue, which abuts Fountain Creek.

"I'm not going anywhere," Vasquez said. "I will persevere."

While much of the flooding in Manitou Springs could be pinned on runoff from the Waldo Canyon fire burn scar, Fountain Creek's high water levels could also be tracked to water coming down from Ruxton Avenue, which rises south of Manitou Avenue.

A gauge near the street recorded 7.56 inches of rain this week, further filling Fountain Creek through downtown Manitou Springs.

A gauge in Williams Canyon recorded 7.96 inches this week, while one in Waldo Canyon recorded 7.33 inches of rain since the monsoon returned.

Many roads in the region were closed Thursday and Friday including U.S. 24 through Ute Pass between Colorado Springs and Teller County. The four-lane artery closed twice Thursday and had just one lane open in each direction by about 5 a.m. Friday.

-- Gazette reporter Jakob Rodgers contributed to this report.

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