Denver weather: Thunderstorms, rain raise risk of flooding, mudslides

Partly cloudy skies allowed sunshine Tuesday morning around metro Denver, warming saturated soils, and rain in the afternoon and evening will boost moisture, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, air pollution was approaching unhealthy levels, prompting state health officials to declare an air quality “action day” alert for Denver and Colorado’s northern Front Range (Boulder, Weld, Adams, Denver, Jefferson, Douglas, Arapahoe, Broomfield and Larimer counties).

Bursts of heavy rain over Colorado’s Front Range mountains, foothills and high plains along the Interstate 25 corridor could lead to sudden flooding in low areas, weather service forecasters said. The strongest storms could bring up to an inch of rain in 30 minutes and sudden gusts of wind. Debris flows and mudslides are possible on the formerly forested foothills burned in 2020 by the Cameron Peak and Calwood fires. West of Fort Collins, water levels in the Cache la Poudre River early Tuesday measured 2,150 cubic feet per second, well above the average 1,284 cfs. A weather service flood advisory for that river remained in effect through Saturday morning.

Thunderstorms forming over the mountains on Tuesday likely will hit hardest west of I-25, raising risks of flooding over the burn scars northwest of Denver, mostly north of Interstate 70 and east of the Continental Divide, forecasters said.

The high temperature in metro Denver Tuesday will be 78 degrees, decreasing to 76 degrees on Wednesday, forecasters said. At night, the temperatures will decrease to around 54 degrees.

Meteorologists estimated the likelihood of rain at 40% Tuesday, increasing to 60% on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment air quality alert, effective through Tuesday evening, warned of elevated ground-level ozone air pollution concentrations that were reaching levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems. Elevated air pollution was most likely across the southern and western parts of metro Denver, including Highlands Ranch and Golden, CDPHE officials said. The agency requested that residents of metro Denver reduce driving in non-electric vehicles and other activities that burn gas or diesel in an effort to minimize health harm.


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