March 15-21, 2015

DENVER (CBS4) – Flood and wildfire awareness week continues across Colorado with today’s message taking a closer look at flood events that last anywhere from several hours to several days.

Long duration floods are typically associated with spring snow melt, heavy rain or a combination of both.

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Colorado is fortunate in that widespread major flood events don’t happen every year, but when they do they’re often catastrophic.

Here are some notable flood events from the past.

June 3, 1921 – The city of Pueblo was devastated after a cloud burst west of town produced a major flash flood along the Arkansas River. Heavy rain north of town sent massive amounts of water rolling down Fountain Creek, which added insult to injury. The death toll was in the hundreds, with some estimates around 1,500. There was roughly 20 million dollars in damage. In some places, the water was 15 feet deep in the downtown area.

May 30-31, 1935 – Widespread slow-moving thunderstorms produced extensive flooding along Monument Creek in the Colorado Springs area. The water was estimated to be 32 feet deep near America the Beautiful Park. At least 18 people lost their lives. Record flooding also occurred along the Republican River of eastern Colorado with 6 people killed.

June 14-20, 1965 – Widespread flooding took place along the Arkansas River and South Platte River, claiming at least two dozen lives and causing millions of dollars in damage. The event changed the face of Denver as we know it and prompted huge upgrades to flood control, including the construction of Chatfield Dam.

April 29 – May 2, 1999 – Over a foot of rain created a major flood in southeast Colorado that impacted communities from Colorado Springs to La Junta.

Sept. 9-16, 2013 – A complex weather pattern produced torrential rain along the Front Range of Colorado, unleashing deadly flash floods in and near the foothills, which lead to a major river flood event for the South Platte River valley of northeast Colorado. Entire towns were cut off from the outside world for days, with many rescued by helicopter. Hundreds of miles of state highways were damaged or destroyed.

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When a flood is threatening or in progress, the National Weather Service partners with several different agencies to monitor water levels on area rivers and large creeks.

When flooding is possible, a watch will be issued for a particular area.

If flooding is in progress a warning is issued.

When flooding is imminent but the impact is expected to be minor an advisory is issued.

One major difference between a long duration flood and a flash flood is that there’s often time to prepare before long duration floods because they can typically be forecasted with advanced notice.

A flash flood happens with little to no advanced warning and often catches people off guard.

Learn more about flooding and how to protect yourself by clicking here.

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Meteorologist Chris Spears writes about stories related to weather and climate in Colorado. Check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.