Crestone Eagle, August 2006:
Flash floods hit the Crestone area
July 3, several flash floods came down the hillsides in the
Baca Grande Chalets, causing widespread damage after a severe
thunderstorm hit. The storm started shortly after 5pm, and
for the next hour up to 2 inches of heavy rain and hail fell
on some areas.
Officially, 1.47 inches of precipitation fell in one hour,
a block south of the Baca Fire Station—with 1 inch of
that coming down in the first 40 minutes. Several parts of
the Crestone/Baca area had more or less precipitation reported,
depending on where the measurements were taken.
In the town of Crestone, only a little more than half an
inch fell in an hour. At the Baca’s weather station
in Chalets I, 1.28 inches were recorded. It was estimated
that over 2 inches of rain fell about 5 blocks south of the
Baca Fire Station, closing parts of the main road and several
side streets due to road damage in the area.
The flash flood was considered a 20-year flood, with this
being the second 20-year-flood to hit parts of the same exact
area in the last 3 years. Many misunderstand the meaning of
such a flood, as this term does not mean such a flood will
happen on average every 20 years. A 20-year-flood is defined
as having a 5% chance of occurrence each year, in turn, a
100-year flood has a 1% chance of occurring each year.
The storm cell responsible for this storm was not seen on
radar, so there was no warning issued for our region. “It
is almost impossible for us to see most of the big thunderstorms
in Crestone, because they are blocked by the mountains,”
says Tom Magnuson, warning coordination meteorologist for
the Pueblo office. That has been the case for the last several
storms, including last year’s tornado and the 2003 storm
which produced flash floods.
The damage from this flood was a bit more widespread in the
Chalets than was seen 3 years ago. Most places didn’t
receive the amount of water and damage that the 2003 flood
caused; however, on Panorama Way, where Alan London’s
car was eaten up by the flood, it was just as bad or even
worst. The main problem (besides too much water running downhill
too fast) is the sandy soil on the side of our highly compacted
gravel roads—along with the steep angles on which the
roads were built. “Our gravel roads, or even the blacktop
ones, come straight down the fall line and must have been
designed by folks who have no clue about landscapes,”
says local Jim Erdman. “Even on Two-Trees (which is
paved) you could see deep gulleying along the road’s
One good note we needed this moisture really badly. The soil
moisture, tested (by Erdman on July 5), went more than a foot
down into the soil. Yes, we needed that moisture, and all
of us are happy to see it, just not so much all at once!
to the Eagle!