By Weather Analyst Greg Berman
On September 1, I had to do a double take when I looked at the thermometer at 10 a.m. The temperature was already pushing 80. At noon, the temp was
closing in on 100. Seriously? On September 1? This is unheard of this time of year. Labor Day did not fair much better. In fact it might as well have been July 4, since we were stealing the heat from one of the hottest months of the year. Each day for the next five were near to or record setting for Lyons. We were up near 100 each day over the first week of the month. I looked at my wife and said, “geesh, if it would only rain!” You see, we hadn’t had rain for two weeks. You know what they say: “Be careful what you wish for!” This is one wish that need not of come true. From 100-year heat records to a 1000-year flood in a matter of days. When God said, let there be rain, he didn’t mess around. Because rain it did!
Just one week earlier we were flirting with heat that hadn’t been felt in September since the 1800’s. That was about to change. On Monday, September 9, the day started out innocently enough. I went through the computer models and shouted out to my wife, “this storm is going to get interesting.” A few days earlier I wondered why other forecasters were not seeing what I was seeing. All of the computer model maps and Quantitative Precipitation Maps were forecasting a whopper of a storm. I was already seeing what looked to be a two to four inch storm over Lyons, which is very atypical for us any time of year. On that Monday, I couldn’t believe what the models were calling for. I went on Weather Talk (my Facebook weather page) and put out the word. Get ready to build an ark I kidded. I talked about what this storm may do, but in no way could I, or any prognosticator know this was going to the next level! The day progressed as another very warm day but with ominous clouds increasing. A couple of light showers fluttered down during the afternoon. A few storms rumbled that evening, and then by midnight it began to rain and rain and rain. By morning, the rain gauge was already over an inch.
By Tuesday night, we were approaching three inches. Now my eyebrows were raised because I wasn’t seeing an end in sight. The computer models were advertising rain for the next several days. Again I thought to myself, seriously? This is Lyons, not Houston, not New Orleans, not Miami and certainly not the tropics. But lo and behold, this is the weather pattern that was birthing over our area. This was moisture that was streaming straight from the equator. This was what we call the monsoons. They develop every year by late June and typically last through the first of September. And they can drop some heavy rains at times, but it’s usually in short duration. It’s usually over a few hours at most, not days. This was so different.
Here are the Meteorological facts that cannot be overlooked: Low Pressure slipped in from the Pacific. The counter-clockwise circulation around the Low scooped up moisture from Old Mexico and deposited it over northern Colorado. High Pressure sitting over the Texas Panhandle, with its clockwise-circulation, scooped up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dropped it over northern Colorado. And to add to the atmospheric trifecta, here came our first cold front of the season out of Canada. The front decided to join the moisture party and also ignited Mother Nature’s moisture machine. These three major weatherized players worked together like some sadistic team to bring this record setting flood to our area. And when it was all said and done by the time the last drop fell on Friday, Lyons stood at exactly nine inches of rain. Want another telling fact? We normally receive just over fourteen inches of rain for a whole year. We almost knocked that out in a little less than four days.
When I first went on TV with Mike Nelson at Channel 7, it was 1 a.m., on Thursday morning. We talked about the weather patterns and what I thought would happen with this system. We talked about this being the 100-year flood. At that time, I told Mike we could hit six inches by morning. When I went on TV with Channel 9 on Thursday at noon, I was shooting video live from our cliff at the wild rushing river while voicing over what was going on. I talked with the 9 News Anchors and described what was going on. I told them what used to be a ten yard wide river that was usually nothing more than a trickle was now a football field size raging and angry river. I could hear Mark Koebrich and Kim Christiansen (the two 9 News anchors) gasp as they watched the river blow by our cliff. They were in awe. While I was filming and talking, I was in awe. As the world watched, they two were in awe of what was unfolding. This time I told the News Anchors, we were now embarking on the 500-year flood.
As the rain gauge continued to build upwards, in no way could any of us know that we were living through something that hadn’t taken place since Neanderthal roamed this earth. This was epic. This was biblical. This was the second coming of Noah, as far as we all were concerned. And this was tragic to our lives as we all knew it. And this was now the 1000-year flood. On Saturday, September 14, one day before my wife’s birthday and the 34th anniversary to the first day my wife and I met, we were told we had to leave our home and vacate our beautiful, magical town. We were in shock. We were devastated. We had to go to a strange town and a strange home for who knows how long. One day after we were told to get out, I looked at Anne and said happy birthday and happy anniversary. There was only one thing wrong with that loving gesture. We didn’t feel happy. The clouds finally broke on what was supposed to be our special day, and out came the long lost sun; however, it won’t truly shine again until we all can go home.
Visit Greg’s Facebook weather page at: https://www.facebook.com/GregsWeatherTalk for forecasts, weather maps (including the latest radars) and general weather discussions.