Storm strikes but doesn’t live up to expectations; rain expected through midweek

July 27, 2014 Updated: July 27, 2014 at 10:52 pm
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Storm clouds that threatened the Waldo Canyon burn scar Sunday didn't live up to expectations of heavy rainfall and potential flash flooding, but meteorologists predicted Pikes Peak region residents will see continued rounds of storms and weather advisories through the middle of the week.

"There's so much moisture present here and we will see thunderstorms every single day until Wednesday, with any of them more than capable of producing heavy rain and potentially flash flooding," said Brian Bledsoe, chief meteorologist of Gazette news partner KKTV.

A flash flood warning for northwestern portions of El Paso County was canceled by 9:50 p.m. Sunday, but a flash flood warning for the southern part of the county remained in effect until 11 p.m., the National Weather Service in Pueblo stated.

Concerns at the weather service center ran high as storm clouds began to gather over El Paso County, completely covering the summit of Pikes Peak with hail by 2 p.m. and stranding several motorists who waited up to an hour as snow plows cleared the roads.

With two storm systems approaching the Waldo Canyon burn scar northwest across El Paso County and southeast over Teller County, weather service meteorologist Steve Hodanish warned that flash flooding could have developed over the area quickly.

But the storms grew stronger over southern parts of El Paso County, where Fort Carson, Fountain and Security got pounded with as much as four inches of rain, Bledsoe said, adding that the same amount of precipitation would have been catastrophic for the burn scar.

"Where the rain falls within the county makes a huge difference, because if the storms develop over the northwest part of the county we have to worry about the scar," Bledsoe said. "If the storms focus on the southern part of the county, those are areas that have already gotten much more rain than usual and they're facing potential flash floods."

A severe thunderstorm that began traveling over south-central El Paso County about 9:15 p.m. with wind gusts up to 60 mph and nickel-size hail reportedly damaged the siding and roofs of houses in Fountain, Hanover and Midway, the weather service said.

Highway 24 remained open through Ute Pass despite the flash flood warning, but Colorado Department of Transportation officials stated early Sunday that more than a dozen crews were on standby if weather conditions worsened.

In northwest Colorado Springs, the Camp Creek and Douglas Creek drainages were running higher than normal, but seemed to have handled the passing storms efficiently, Bledsoe said. Fountain Creek in southern Colorado Springs, he added, would run high overnight and warned that people should stay out of ditches and drainages in the area for their safety.

For meteorologists in the region, Bledsoe explained, the daily trick will be to figure out where the storms are developing and how they will behave.

The weather service predicted between 40 and 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for every day of the week, with the strongest possibility of heavy precipitation and high winds for Tuesday night into Wednesday.

"This is the dance we're going to be doing on daily basis, and the time frame that we're most concerned about is from late Tuesday into Wednesday, because we could see widespread thunderstorms with heavy rain," Bledsoe said.

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