August 17 to August 23: This Week in Denver Weather History
Afternoon and evening thunderstorms this time of year are common and normally relatively uneventful. However, as we see in our look back at this week in Denver weather history, these storms can be severe with flooding, lightning, hail and even tornadoes.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1979…heavy thunderstorm rains on each of 4 consecutive days dumped a total of 2.62 inches of rain on Stapleton International Airport. The heaviest rain…1.05 inches… On the 19th was accompanied by 1/4 inch diameter hail.
In 1953…a tornado was sighted 8 miles east of Castle Rock. An unconfirmed tornado was sighted between Denver and Strasburg. No damage was reported.
In 1963…heavy rain in southeast Denver…Englewood…and Littleton caused flooding of basements and streets. Over 3.00 inches of rain fell at Cherry Creek Dam. Lightning caused power failures. The hardest hit areas were in north- central Denver. A 12-year-old boy was swept into a conduit by a 3-foot high crest of water. He was carried 125 feet through the waterway…but was unhurt. Thunderstorm rainfall totaled only 0.24 inch at Stapleton Airport.
In 1972…a thunderstorm wind gust to 53 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport. Strong winds also occurred in the Littleton area where several trees and utility poles were blown over and a number of windows broken.
In 1978…1 3/4 inch diameter hail was reported in Thornton.
In 1982…heavy rain occurred in the foothills southwest of Denver where 4.50 inches fell in 75 minutes between Evergreen and Conifer. Nearby…2.66 inches of rain drenched the north turkey creek canyon area in just 15 minutes.
In 1984…scattered slow moving thunderstorms dumped heavy rain across southern metro Denver. The heavy rain caused some road washouts in Jefferson and Douglas counties. A bridge was washed out in Douglas County. Three inches of rain fell in just an hour at Castle Rock…causing heavy silt damage to a home and to nearby drainage ditches.
In 1988…a thunderstorm dumped 2 to 3 inches of rain in southeast Denver and adjacent areas of Arapahoe County in less than 90 minutes. There was widespread street flooding…and I-25 was closed by 4 feet of water near its intersection with I-225 just south of Denver. A flood control project in Arapahoe County at Greenwood Village sustained over 10 thousand dollars damage. Up to 4 feet of water flooded some basements in the area. Only 0.44 inch of rain fell at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1990…heavy thunderstorm rains over the Boulder creek and St. Vrain Creek drainage basins caused many creeks and drainage ditches to rise in eastern Boulder and southwest weld counties. The high waters punched three 30-foot holes in the embankment of a drainage ditch…which traversed through the town of Firestone…20 miles north of Denver. A sheet of water 2 to 3 feet deep rushed out onto the streets of firestone…forcing the evacuation of a trailer park and residents from 50 neighboring homes. No injuries or serious damage occurred except for mud and water damage. Lightning struck and injured 4 construction workers standing in an Aurora field. They received treatment for minor injuries at a local hospital. Lightning also struck the roof of a Methodist church in central Denver… Knocking down the highest peak of the steeple. A half dozen people were in the building…but no one was injured. Slow moving thunderstorms dumped 2 to 3 inches of rain over southeast Aurora in 90 minutes. The heavy rain accumulated on the roof of a condominium clubhouse…causing the roof to collapse under the weight of the water. Nearly 300 residents were evacuated from the 200-unit complex because of the structural damage. The residents were allowed to return to their homes when it was determined the damage was confined to the clubhouse. No injuries were reported.
In 1993…just west of Fort Lupton…thunderstorm winds blew the tin roof off a cattle shelter into a mobile home… Causing considerable damage to the mobile home.
In 1997…lightning struck a home in Castle Rock sparking a fire. Damage was estimated at 20 thousand dollars.
In 2000…thunderstorms producing very heavy rain…up to 3.50 inches in spots…caused flooding and flash flooding across metro Denver. In Commerce City…a 37-year-old firefighter drowned while attempting to rescue a stranded motorist on a flooded street. The firefighter was wading through the water when he lost his footing and was sucked into a 10 foot deep culvert. He was swept away before anyone could reach him. Extensive flooding was also reported throughout Littleton and north Denver.
In 1965…heavy rain in areas south and east of Denver caused some flooding in Littleton and Englewood. Clear creek was running near bank full…and heavy rain in southwest Denver flooded intersections.
In 1966…a brief very heavy thunderstorm dumped 0.61 inch of rain in just 5 minutes at Stapleton International Airport. Total rainfall from the storm…0.64 inch…fell in just 10 minutes. Half inch diameter hail also fell at Stapleton International Airport. The public sighted funnel clouds 10 to 15 miles south of the airport.
In 1967…hail struck in a strip along the eastern foothills and caused minor damage in Boulder. Hail accumulated to a depth of 4 to 6 inches in Jefferson County just southwest of Denver.
In 1983…one inch to hen egg size hail was reported in Broomfield with golf ball size hail at Northglenn.
In 1990…dime size hail and thunderstorm wind gusts to 50 mph were reported by storm spotters just east of Aurora near the intersection of Mississippi Avenue and Gun Club Road. The hail and strong winds damaged a number of windows in the area.
In 1991…very heavy rain from slow moving thunderstorms dumped up to 3 inches of rain in 20 minutes in the vicinity of Idaho Springs and central city. Flooding in Idaho Springs forced the closure of the Virginia Gulch Road…which runs from Idaho Springs to Central City. Dirt roads above Central City were damaged or destroyed with the mud being swept onto streets in town. High water in Clear Creek…up to 3 feet above flood stage…washed out a bridge in Idaho Springs. Rock and mud slides forced the closure of I-70 about 1 mile east of Idaho Springs.
In 1997…dry microbursts produced two peak wind gusts to an estimated 60 mph east of Buckley Field.
In 2000…hail as large as 3/4 inch in diameter was measured 5 miles west of Sedalia.
In 2003…a severe thunderstorm produced hail as large as 2.75 inches in diameter at Highlands Ranch. Hail to 3/4 inch was reported in Aurora near Cherry Creek and in Arapahoe County 9 miles southeast of Aurora.
In 2004…heavy thunderstorm rainfall caused flash flooding across central and southern metro Denver. A rain gage at City Park recorded 4.37 inches of rainfall from the deluge. Several roads in and around the city had to be closed due to floodwaters…stranding many vehicles. The Denver Fire Department conducted at least 15 water rescues. One driver nearly drowned when he made a wrong turn into a retaining pond. Four men who witnessed the accident were able to save the man before his car was completely submerged. Widespread street flooding was reported in the Denver Stapleton area where rainfall totaled 3.81 inches. Standing water over 6 inches deep was reported near I-70 and Quebec…I-225 south of I-70…and I-25 near 6th Avenue. Flood waters reached 8 feet deep in some low lying areas as sewers became clogged and the storm runoff pipes were unable to handle the heavy flow of water. Heavy rainfall caused additional flash flooding south of Denver. Several street intersections in Centennial and southern Aurora became impassable due to high water. Two feet of water covered portions of the roadway near Park Meadows Mall. One person had to be rescued near the intersection of Arapahoe Road and Liverpool. Floodwaters forced the closure of Stonegate Parkway near Jordan Road and Lincoln Avenue. Flooding was also reported on Meridian Blvd. Near I-25. Rainfall was 1.62 inches at Denver International Airport.
In 1875…nearly 0.75 inch of rainfall in the city overnight… Possibly assisted by heavier rainfall upstream…produced a decided and rapid rise in Cherry Creek…which washed out some bridges. Other small creeks and streams were filled to overflowing.
In 1983…heavy rain fell across the northern metro Denver suburbs with 1.50 to 1.80 inches of rain in Broomfield… Arvada…and Thornton.
In 1989…lightning killed a 31-year-old man and injured his 10 year old nephew when it hit a tree they were walking under in the foothills about 5 miles west of Boulder. The boy received mouth to mouth resuscitation on the scene and recovered after being hospitalized overnight. Three other people were knocked to the ground by the bolt…but were uninjured.
In 1990…3/4 inch diameter hail was reported in Wheat Ridge. A thunderstorm over west Denver dumped an inch of rain in 20 minutes…causing minor street flooding. One inch diameter hail was reported over east Denver. Ping pong to golf ball size hail was reported 14 miles northeast of Denver at the intersection of 122nd Ave. and Brighton Blvd. The hail stones knocked out windows and did an unspecified amount of damage to the roof of a house. Close by…heavy thunderstorm rains caused gullies…irrigation ditches…and small streams to overflow their banks near the intersection of 120th Avenue and Riverdale Road. Flood waters 1 to 2 feet deep covered the river bottom land along the South Platte River. However…no structures were threatened by the flood waters.
In 1999…heavy rain…up to 5 inches in two hours…caused East Tollgate Creek to jump its banks. The bike path adjacent to the creek was underwater at several locations. Several underpasses were also flooded…halting traffic. In addition…an unfinished playground at a local elementary school was completely flooded. Lightning struck a vehicle at East Evans Avenue and Tower Road. The woman inside the vehicle was not injured.
In 1875…grasshoppers appeared in great numbers at 10:00 am on the 19th. Thousands landed on the ground. The streets were literally covered with them. Swarms of grasshoppers were seen on each day. All gardens in the city were devastated…and in the countryside the grasshoppers were very destructive to ripened grain. On the 30th the grasshoppers were so numerous as to almost darken the sun.
In 1980…winds to 55 to 60 mph were recorded in south Boulder.
In 1982…strong thunderstorm winds blasted the Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield…causing an estimated 3 million dollars in damage. At least 5 hangars and 15 airplanes were damaged…many seriously; one hangar was completely destroyed. Torrential rains accompanied the winds. Heavy rains also dumped on Boulder where 1.65 inches fell in just 15 minutes…causing street flooding. Wind gusts to 72 mph were recorded in Boulder. Over half an inch of rain fell in just 5 minutes in Littleton where two homes were struck by lightning. Lightning also struck a house in Arvada where over an inch of rain sent Ralston Creek over its banks. Strong winds accompanied the storms.
In 1984…slow moving thunderstorms dumped 1.25 inches of rain in Evergreen…causing street flooding. A half inch of rain fell in just 18 minutes in southeast Denver. Littleton and Boulder were also drenched with about an inch of rain. Rainfall totaled 0.92 inch at Stapleton International Airport.
In 2001…severe thunderstorms produced damaging winds and large hail across metro Denver. Hail as large 1 inch in diameter fell in Aurora near Cherry Creek. Strong thunderstorm winds gusting as high as 58 mph blew the roof from a building between Thornton and Denver and toppled several trees in Denver. One tree landed on a mail truck. Other thunderstorm winds were clocked to 60 mph near Parker… 62 mph in Broomfield…and 61 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2006…a tornado (F0) touched down near Bennett…but caused no reported damage.
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