And then the rain came down
Wave after wave of showers and thunderstorms pounded the Grand Valley and the outlying areas of Mesa County on Monday, overwhelming ditch banks and flooding homes and properties in De Beque, triggering mudslides and debris flows and turning Grand Junction streets and parking lots into lakes.
Water from the heavy rain raged through normally dry washes and overran ditches and canals. Flood waters washed a home on 45 1/2 Road off its foundation and a tractor into a wash, while destroying a garage, according to De Beque Fire Chief Mike Harvey.
There were no injuries, he said.
“It flooded the road (45 1/2 Road) just about at every drainage between here and there,” Harvey said as he monitored flooding in Bass Lake subdivision near De Beque.
Residents were put on notice of possible evacuations in the Bass Lake development, but none were ordered, Harvey said. Robert Becker, 4648 Bass Lake Court, was assisted by neighbors as he swept muddy waters from his driveway.
Flooding spared the interior of his home, while a neighbor of Becker’s couldn’t recall such flooding in the subdivision in 16 years.
“It washed away my rocks and groundcover,” Becker said.
The storms pushed north and east over the Uncompahgre Plateau and Colorado National Monument and stalled in the valley, dumping an inch of rain or more in a city that receives about 9 inches of precipitation in an entire year and overwhelming municipal storm drainage systems. One resident reported a half-inch of rain falling in 15 minutes.
At various times during the day, Monument Road, Colorado Highway 139 south of Rangely and Colorado Highway 65 on Grand Mesa were closed because of flood waters and mudslides that made the roads impassable.
Flooding also affected 25 Road from Riverside Parkway north, the Mesa Mall area, Seventh Street, First Street and Orchard Avenue and Rosevale Road, among other areas, Grand Junction police reported.
Some motorists attempted to drive through flooded intersections and parking lots, only to stall and be rescued. One woman was seen navigating a local street in a canoe.
Rocks and hail dotted streets and yards in the Ridges subdivision. Piles of hail reported to be the size of quarters looked like blankets of snow.
Redlands residents Mary Kuhlman and Linda Randolph live near the intersection of Ridgeway Drive and Ridges Boulevard and came down hauling a rake and shovel Monday afternoon after the heaviest rains subsided so they could toss rocks, dirt and sand out of Ridges Boulevard.
Kuhlman said she’s lived in the area for 25 years and never saw Ridges Boulevard as littered with debris as it was Monday afternoon.
On the first day of school for District 51, buses attempting to return students to their homes in Fruita, the Redlands and Glade Park were delayed in the afternoon because of road closures.
Power was briefly knocked out to nearly 200 Xcel Energy customers in central and eastern Grand Junction.
Officially, Grand Junction received 1.15 inches of rain, shattering the record of 0.68 inches set for the date in 1897, said Norv Larson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“You can’t call it a perfect storm, but certainly all of the elements were there for a heavy rain,” Larson said.
Calling it an “almost classic monsoon,” Larson said the combination of low pressure over the Great Basin and high pressure over the southern plains allows moisture to feed up from Mexico into western Colorado.
A disturbance that accompanied the moisture helped organize and sustain the storms, Larson said.
“Once a storm fires when it’s this moist, it’s a very efficient rainfall producer,” he said.
“The rain fell over much of the area very heavily. Over an inch here is an excessive amount in anybody’s book.”
Forecasters are calling for a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today before a warming and drying trend will boost highs back into the 90s by Wednesday.
Staff writers Emily Shockley and Melinda Mawdsley contributed to this report.