From heavy rainfall and hail to tornado watches and flash flood warnings, Denver’s weather has been anything but typical in 2023. Halfway through the year, Denver has already received nearly all of its annual precipitation.
“I remember the Boulder flood in 2013, which brought tons of rain down here too,” said Patrice Langan, who has been a Northside resident for nearly 24 years. “But this year it’s been scary. You feel helpless to see rivers where there usually are roads.”
Last month broke the record for June rainfall with 6.10 inches, most of which fell in the first four days. It was the most rain since records started being kept in the 1880s. Such patterns are spurring both awe and concern as Denverites adapt to the unprecedented storms.
“Last week I was biking home from work and had to wait for an hour under a bridge until the hail stopped,” said Cesar Dominguez. “It was absolutely insane.”
The storm on June 29 proved particularly intense. The relentless rain and hail made for historic hold-ups throughout the city. Two cars were submerged and abandoned under the bridge on 38th and Fox Street, while flooded dugouts and a sheet of ice caused a two-hour delay for the Rockies game that evening.
“When we were driving home last week the streets were completely flooded and street signs were floating down the street,” said Anna Oosterhaus, who was born and raised in Colorado. “When I walked up to my car, the water was above the bottom of the doors and I had to wade through it. My car still had a large amount of standing water and I am still dealing with trying to get it out.”
As for local businesses, the storm caused several stores to close early for the day. Such was the case with Leever’s Locavore, a local grocery store located at 38th and Clay Street.
“It was overwhelming,” said David Bellfi, a Locavore employee. “In an instant, our emergency exit stairwell was filled to the door handle and water was spewing in the sides. The water seeped through the foundation and flooded the bathrooms and basement underneath.”
Most of the hail storms this year haven’t brought the same destruction as previous ones like the storm on May 8, 2017, which led to $2.3 billion in insurance claims. But with labor shortages in the construction industry and sky-high material costs, some residents may be in for a rude awakening when the time comes to make repairs. In light of those challenges, Denver restoration companies have done their best to prepare for the season.
“We already have 100 jobs in line for the month of July,” said Courtnei Frady, an employee at Deep Water Emergency Services. “We know our business ebbs and flows so we always get ready when big storms come.”
While the rainfall continues to reveal structural issues for both home and business owners alike, city officials are advising ways for citizens to ease the broader effects of flooding. This includes monitoring storm drains and ensuring street gutters and alleys are clear of trash or items that might hinder water drainage. Going forward, the City of Denver is also moving toward greener practices that better handle excess rainfall.
“We are prioritizing green infrastructure around the community which mimics natural systems to filter stormwater,” said Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Spokesperson Tiffany McCree. “This not only helps with stormwater management but also slows and cleans the stormwater before returning it to our creeks and rivers.”
For more information regarding weather preparation and prevention in the Denver area, click here.