Area copes with rain

Cleanup continues; for GJ, it was 15th-wettest day ever

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Traffic travels Tuesday along waterlogged North Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets, where stormwater accumulated after a storm a day earlier. The National Weather Service measured 1.17 inches of rain at Grand Junction Regional Airport from the storm Monday

Residents of about a dozen homes in De Beque’s Bass Lake subdivision spent Tuesday clearing debris and mud from around their homes after a whopping 1.22 inches fell a day earlier.

In Grand Junction, 1.17 inches of rain was recorded in Monday’s deluge, setting its mark in the record books for the most rain ever on that date and the 15th-most amount of rain to fall in a single day in Grand Junction since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1893. The extra moisture bumped Grand Junction’s precipitation amount to 1.16 inches above normal for this time of year.

More rain fell Tuesday in localized storms, but only trace amounts were measured at Grand Junction Regional Airport, where the National Weather Service records precipitation.

Mesa County workers toiled into the night Monday to clear roads and ensure any subsequent storms washed water down gullies and washes, said Pete Baier, Mesa County deputy administrator for operations.

“The forecast is saying we’re not going to see as much rain, but we still have to be vigilant,” Baier said Tuesday. “We get these real intense, real localized storms. Even on parts of the Redlands, it rained more than others.”

The De Beque area may have received the brunt of the storm Monday, with a wash raging with water off V Road estimated at between 15 and 20 feet deep, said Mike Harvey, fire chief of the De Beque Fire Protection District.

“It ran like I’ve never seen it run,” he said.

Residents of a home on 45 1/2 Road, near Black Mountain and off the Shire Gulch drainage, were reportedly not at home when the water began rising, but the rains eventually knocked their house off its foundation in a flash flood. An attached garage is considered a total loss. They refused help from the American Red Cross and are staying with family in Grand Junction, Harvey said.

A 65-horsepower tractor owned by the home’s resident washed away and hasn’t been seen since, he said.

“It could be anywhere,” he said of the tractor. “It’s amazing the force. If it’s raining in the high country, you have to be aware.”

Runoff from the storm temporarily blocked Colorado Highway 65. By Tuesday, water that had raged through a drainage — normally dry, Harvey said — retreated to a trickle.

Fortunately for their owners, a few other homes in the area are situated on higher ground.

Some residents of the Bass Lake subdivision lost hayfields to the storm. Residents were put on evacuation notice Monday but ultimately were not required to flee.

“It came down through there pretty fast,” Harvey said. “People didn’t have a lot of warning. It could be another 100 years before it happens again. The good thing is, it’s not very populated in western Colorado so we don’t have the flood impact.”

Dan Cuevas, a technician at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said rainfall amounts on Monday varied across the valley. For example, the Appleton area received just 0.78 inch of rain.

“It was pretty impressive watching it outside and seeing the radar,” he said of the intense, driving rain.

A slight chance of rain is expected for early next week, “but nothing like what we saw,” Cuevas said. “We’re going to see more drying out.”

Forecasts show no rain and high temperatures into the low 90s through the weekend.


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