Beware the rains of October. That’s what Durango residents in 1911 would say about the 100-year flood that caused rivers to breach their banks and washed away bridges and roads.
That flood occurred Oct. 6, and while Tuesday won’t see floods of that caliber, a flash flood watch was in effect until midnight Monday, and rain is in the forecast through Wednesday night.
A watch means conditions may develop that will lead to flash flooding. The watch came on the heels of deadly flash flooding in Utah in mid-September, when 21 people were killed in flash flood incidents across the southern part of the state.
Flash flood threats are most dangerous for small streams, creeks, normally dry wash beds, slot canyons, slick rock areas and burn scars, the National Weather Service said. In late September 2013, similar fall storms caused major mudslides from the Missionary Ridge Fire burn scar on East Animas Road (County Road 250).
Heavy rains late afternoon Monday in Southwest La Plata County and Southeast Montezuma County led the weather service to issue a flood advisory for those areas.
County Road 105 south of U.S. Highway 160 was expected to experience shallow flows over the road. Mud was also possible over Montezuma County Road 46 through East Canyon because of the Weber Fire burn scar.
Meteorologist Paul Frisbie of the weather service’s Grand Junction Office said some areas had already exceeded 1 inch of rainfall from the storms passing through by 4 p.m. Monday. In the Columbus Basin north of Hesperus, rainfall topped 1.5 inches.
“You’ll definitely be adding to those amounts (Monday night) and (Tuesday),” he said, “but Wednesday shouldn’t be as wet.”
Snow is possible above 12,000 feet, Frisbie said, particularly Tuesday night going into Wednesday.
“We’re not expecting significant amounts lower or even on mountain passes,” he said. “There’s not going to be snow going into Silverton or Telluride. But the peaks will be white and will look ‘fallish.’”
The moisture is not necessarily tied to El Niño, Frisbie said.
“There’s nothing unusual about this scenario at this time of year,” he said. “This kind of rain could happen any year.”
The weather service says we should start drying out Wednesday, although there is the possibility of an occasional shower. Clear and sunny weather is predicted through the weekend.