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Last Fall’s Historic Flooding Not As Epic As First Thought

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DENVER (CBS4)- Last fall’s historic flooding in Colorado may not be as epic as first thought. Researchers said the state has had river levels rise even higher than they did in September 2013.

Right after the waters started to recede last fall, seven teams of government experts went out to investigate just how much water actually came down from the foothills.

“We did that in order to reconstruct what peak flows were during this event,” said U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Bob Kimbrough.

(credit: Ted Krohn)

(credit: Ted Krohn)

Those teams found that for many of the rivers and creeks there have been higher peaks during other flooding events with one exception.

“What we’re seeing in the St. Vrain creek from Lyons on downstream is that we could perhaps have new record flows for recent history,” said Kimbrough.

Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson River have both seen higher peaks before which means we could see a similar event again.

“We’ve seen bigger floods in the past so this is not unprecedented and we are continuing to see, most likely to continue to see large floods in the future,” said Kimbrough. “We have to be aware of where we build our homes and businesses.”

One thing that hasn’t been seen with other flooding is the amount of landslides. The USGS mapped more than 1,000 landslides.

“An extraordinary number of debris flows that happened from this event and they occur at all elevations up to 10,000 feet,” said Kimbrough. “Which really exacerbated the flooding or damage that we saw from this event. Now we need to determine what these peak estimates were.”

That proves we could see more destruction in the future.

“The flooding is going to continue so the question is how do we manage development in the flood plane?” said Kimbrough.

The USGS also said the flooding that occurred in Aurora was an anomaly compared to what was experienced in Northern Colorado. They’re still trying to figure out why Aurora took on so much water.

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