Sunday will mark the third day of heavy rains for much of the Front Range. According to 7News, many areas have received 2-3 inches of rain already since Friday, more than an inch could fall on Sunday and more showers are expected into Monday.
The good news: Fire danger is dramatically lower thanks to all this rain.
The bad news: Most of central Colorado is now under flood watch, according to the National Weather Service.
Denver saw heavy rains on Saturday and should see more on Sunday. 9News reports that on Saturday afternoon at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival the downpour destroyed tents, signs and streets filled with water. A lightning strike even set fire to a power line in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The possibility of flash flooding and mudslides in areas affected by wildfires are of extra concern due to the ground being exposed after a fire consumes the natural vegetation.
"Once the rain hits the areas that burned hotly, those soils will not be enough to absorb any of the moisture," meteorologist Kathy Torgerson with the National Weather Service in Pueblo told The Colorado Springs Gazette. "It will mix with the ash and cause these mud and ash flows. And they can be quite dramatic."
The Waldo Canyon Fire burn area was seeing only "steady, if light rain" on Saturday,according to The Gazette. And despite the rains, the most destructive wildfire in state history remained 98 percent contained on Sunday morning due to smoke spotted near Blodgett Peak Saturday morning. Firefighters want to see 24 hours without smoke before 100 percent containment is announced.
The Denver Post reports that volunteers filled thousands of sandbags in the High Park Fire burn area with hopes of fending off flooding and more heartache to residents that have just returned to their homes recently. The High Park Fire was declared 100 percent contained just last weekend.
Larimer County was pounded by rain forcing the closure of U.S 34 west of Loveland Saturday evening because of mudslides, The Coloradoan reports.
Near Dacono, I-25 was also closed for some time on Saturday as well due to standing water.
The 6,000 acres scorched by the 2010 Fourmile Fire in Boulder County is on its fourth consecutive day of flood watch, according to The Daily Camera.
Elsewhere in Boulder County, the Nederland area was under flash flood warning after heavy rain pounded the region Saturday, according to 9News.
List and captions courtesy of Mother Nature Network
The simplest step in lightning safety is to avoid thunderstorms in the first place. Storms can pop up suddenly during summer, so it's a good idea to check weather forecasts often before going out (as well as while you're out, via a smartphone, radio or other portable device). Be especially wary of hitting the water in boats or jet skis when bad weather is brewing, since a storm might explode before you can get back to land. If you don't have access to weather reports, keep an eye on the horizon for any tall, dark storm clouds with an anvil or cauliflower shape.
Lightning is just a huge spark of electricity, caused by opposite electrical charges within a storm or between clouds and the ground. There are two types of cloud-to-ground lightning: negative flashes that link a storm's negatively charged interior to positively charged ground below, and positive flashes that connect a storm's positive top to negative ground farther away. The latter type can strike about 10 miles outward from a storm, which is why it's unwise to delay your retreat until you actually see clouds or feel rain -- by then, it could already be too late.
Thunder is the noise lightning makes as it rips through air, causing it to rapidly heat up and expand. Human ears can typically hear thunder up to 10 miles away from a lightning bolt, and since that's also how far lightning can reach from its parent storm, this familiar sound really is as scary as your dog thinks it is. If you hear thunder while you're outdoors, you're already in danger. You should quickly head for a safe shelter, ideally without any metal objects like umbrellas or golf clubs that could make you an enticing target.
Seek shelter ASAP when caught in a thunderstorm, but also keep in mind that not all shelter is the same. Trees are a terrible option, for example, since their height attracts lightning. The NWS suggests either a "substantial building" -- i.e., one that's fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor, and has plumbing or wiring -- or an enclosed metal vehicle. Avoid unsafe buildings such as carports, open garages, covered patios, picnic shelters, beach pavilions, golf shelters, tents, baseball dugouts, sheds and greenhouses. Unsafe vehicles include golf carts, convertibles, motorcycles and any others with open cabs.
Finding an enclosed shelter is the best way to escape lightning, but there are also ways to reduce the risks if you can't reach a building or a car. The first is to get away from tall trees, flagpoles, power lines or other vertical structures that might attract lightning, especially if they contain metal. The second is to avoid becoming a lightning rod yourself: Crouch low to the ground, but don't kneel, sit or lie down. The idea is to touch the ground as little as possible, so try not to even put your hands on it. And, if possible, keep looking for a suitable shelter.
Your dog may already have a healthy fear of thunder, but since he probably doesn't quite understand why, he still needs your help to stay safe. Don't leave dogs or other pets outside if a thunderstorm is expected, and don't let them seek refuge in a doghouse, open barn or other vulnerable structure.
You're much safer from lightning in an enclosed building, but you're not totally safe. There are several ways lightning can sneak inside, such as phone lines, electrical wires, water pipes, doors and windows. Use cordless phones or cellphones if you must talk midstorm, and wait until after the storm passes to take a shower or bath. You can protect TVs, computers and other electronics by unplugging them in advance, but it's risky to do so during a storm since you could be shocked in the process. And while it may be tempting to watch a storm from your porch or balcony, that would mean you're back outside -- and back in danger.
Learn how to survive a lightning storm with these safety tips.