Fire Earth

Mass die-offs from human impact and planetary response to the assault could occur by early 2016

Archive for the ‘Big Thompson Valley’ Category

Arkansas Floodwaters Submerge Campground, Killing 16

Posted by feww on June 12, 2010

Flash floods swept through campground in Arkansas, killing at least 16, injuring 20, with 30 others reported missing, officials said.

A tsunami-like wave, caused by torrential rains that inundated the Little Missouri River to about 7 meters (20  feet), drowned the victims as they slept in their tents at the Albert Pike campground in the Ouachita Mountains west of Little Rock, according to reports.

A river gauge near the Ouachita National Forest registered a rise of about  2.4m (8ft) in just one hour, the US Geological Survey said.

At least 6 children are believed to be among the dead, as 65 people were rescued from the Ouachita Mountains valley.

The National Weather Service said 193mm (7.6in) of rain had fallen overnight.

“As that river goes down, you don’t know how many people are under it,”  Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said.

This tragedy bears close resemblance to Colorado’s Big Thompson Canyon flood disaster in 1976 in which 145 people were killed.

Related Links:

Posted in Albert Pike campground, Big Thompson Canyon, Big Thompson Valley, Little Rock, Ouachita Mountains, Ouachita National Forest | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Disasters: Big Thompson Canyon, Colorado

Posted by feww on April 29, 2010

Each and every disaster can be interpreted as a warning sign, but to read the signs you have to understand the language—reader KMH

The Big Thompson Canyon flood killed 145 people (6 were never found), destroyed 418 houses and damaged another 138, destroyed 152 businesses, causing at least $40 million in damages, in 120 long minutes.

It was as if nature had laid a trap

Up to 3,500 people had escaped the summer heat,  traveling to the cooler mountain air in one of Colorado’s most popular holiday destinations, some celebrating the state’s  100-year statehood anniversary. It was July 31, 1976.

“At the height of the Colorado tourist season, several thousand people escaped city heat by traveling to a popular camping area an hour northwest of Denver for hiking, fishing, camping and relaxing in the cooler mountain air. By late afternoon, an estimated 2,500-3,500 people were enjoying themselves in one of Colorado’s most scenic river valleys. They had no way of knowing that unusual atmospheric conditions and the physical make up of the Big Thompson River valley were setting the stage for disaster.”


Northern Colorado’s Big Thompson River flows from the Rocky Mountains (west) to the Great Plains (east) through a steep-walled, boulder-strewn canyon. This image was captured by the Advanced Land Imager on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on March 22, 2010.  Image and caption: NASA
- Download large image (4 MB, JPEG). Click image to enlarge.

By early evening “as campers frolicked, a witch’s brew began to develop in the atmosphere”

A combination of moist air rising up the mountain slopes and the summer heat formed thunderstorms which “lifted along the Front Range and began to dump heavy rain on the region about 6 p.m. Winds found at mountain crests of 10,000 feet are usually strong enough to push thunderstorms to the east and out of the area. On July 31, 1976, however, the upper winds were extremely weak and weren’t strong enough to push the storm away from the Big Thompson Valley.”


The Big Thompson River basin is similar geologically to many river basins along the eastern side of the Continental Divide. Sheer rock forms the canyon walls, with little soil and vegetation to absorb runoff from storms. The river starts high in the Rocky Mountains near Estes Park in north-central Colorado and flows eastward through the rugged, steep-walled canyon. In some places, the canyon walls jut almost straight up. From top to bottom, the river drops vertically more than half a mile and exits the canyon into the rolling, forested plains west of Loveland. Dotted with homes, restaurants and other businesses, U.S. Highway 34 stretched the length of the canyon. Image: USGS; Caption: NOAA. Click image to enlarge.

The worst natural disaster in Colorado’s history was about to occur

The quasi stationary storm lingered on above the canyon  for more than three hours,  dumping about 30cm (1 foot) of rain into the basin. “Eight inches of rain fell in one hour-long stretch, and turned the normally placid two-foot-deep trickle into a raging torrent of water 19 feet high. Sweeping 10-foot boulders in front of it, the wall of water sped down the canyon slope. Cars, campers, and buildings in its path had no chance of survival.”

The canyon received the average year’s worth of precipitation within the first 4 hours after the rainstorm began. “The gauging station at the mouth of the canyon recorded peak flow of 883 cubic meters per second, four times higher than the previous record flood.”

The Big Thompson Canyon flood killed 145 people (6 were never found), destroyed 418 houses and damaged another 138, destroyed 152 businesses, causing at least $40 million in damages, in 120 long minutes.


Image Source: Water Resources Archive, Colorado State University. Image may be subject to copyright. Click image to enlarge.

Related Links:

-

Serial No 1,637. Starting April 2010, each entry on this blog has a unique serial number. If any of the numbers are missing, it may mean that the corresponding entry has been blocked by Google/the authorities in your country. Please drop us a line if you detect any anomaly/missing number(s).

Posted in Big Thompson Canyon, Big Thompson Valley, larimer county | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 392 other followers