May is one of the most volatile months on Colorado’s calendar and 2014 was no exception.
Sure, we had nice days a couple of days that reached 80 degrees in Denver though the mountains haven’t begun to warm yet and it was still a chilly 60 degrees.
But at the end of May, the skies turned angry and presented mountain dwellers with heavy rain, hail, snow, thunder and lightning and even a funnel cloud sighting down on Brook Forest.
That’s right – a funnel cloud at 9.000 feet.
What impacted most people was several days of punishing rain and hail that damaged cars and homes and left almost two inches of hail on roadways.
The old saying goes that some people “can’t see the forest for the trees” applies to those of us that live in the mountains. We literally can’t see what’s coming behind us on the high mountain ridges. When I say high, I mean higher than 9,000 feet. People that live where they can’t see what’s coming get very good at reading the air and rely on several iPhone apps that show real-time radar but even then, a surprise awaits in those fluffy clouds. Without any warning massive storms rumble over and can catch the mountain population unaware.
That’s what happened on May 21. On Shadow Mountain, there was a slight amount of small hail but by the time I had driven to the Staples Center it was a deluge of slick roads and nowhere to hide … except the underpass at U.S. 285 and Pleasant Park. I thought I was being clever but 20 or so of my closest friends had already sought shelter under the bridge, some parked on the sidewalks. It was the only protection from the little white dent makers.
The storm passed after a few minutes and everyone went gingerly on their way because the storm had dumped massive amounts of hail and water on the roadways. The slow exodus from under the bridge was the closest thing to a traffic jam equal to a herd of elk in downtown Evergreen.
That storm was short-lived and many people posted queries on Pinecam about making insurance claims or just sucking it up and paying for damages themselves. Right now, everyone is nervous about insurance claims for fear of cancellation.
Only a handful of meteorologists knew we were in for several days of heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms and flooding. Of course, on top of a mountain there’s not much danger of flooding but still, up here, there’s a better view of the rainbows.