2013 Front Range Flood: 5 Years Later

A detour sign and a caution tape block the bike path due to imminent flooding of the Boulder Creek.
Sep. 26, 2018

7:00 – 8:30 pm MDT


In September 2013, the Front Range experienced record breaking rainfall, creating devastating floods and damage across the area.

On September 26th, special lecture and panel was hosted at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in collaboration with the Denver-Boulder chapter of the American Meteorological Society. This special lecture discussed the hydrometeorology of the floods, the local and national climatological perspective related to the event, and how the National Weather Service and Boulder Office of Emergency Management personnel responded to the floods. Our guest speakers included NSF NCAR scientist Heather Lazrus, Matt Kelsch (UCAR), David Barjenbruch (National Weather Service), and Michael Chard (Boulder Office of Emergency Management).

Heather Lazrus

Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory, NSF NCAR

Heather Lazrus is a project scientist at the U.S. National Science Foundation National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF NCAR) in the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory. She will discuss the social aspects of floods in Boulder County, including data collected from interviews with members of the public prior to the 2013 floods and with flood managers following the 2013 floods. In particular, she will discuss how people perceive, evaluate, and make decisions regarding flash flood risks, and how we can live with risks in resilient communities. 

Matt Kelsch


Matt Kelsch is a hydrometeorologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) with the COMET® Program. Matt is also the Boulder and Broomfield county coordinator for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network (www.cocorahs.org). In his presentation, Matt will discuss the hydrometeorology of the 2013 flood, including what happens to the water once it hits the ground and will present a climatological perspective of the flood, both locally and nationally.

David Barjenbruch

National Weather Service, Boulder

David Barjenbruch is a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Boulder, CO. As a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder on the nights of September 11th and 12th, 2013, David will discuss the various aspects of this flood event, including meteorology, office response and operations, partner communications, coordination, and challenges.

Michael Chard

Boulder Office of Emergency Management

Michael Chard is the director of the Boulder Office of Emergency Management (BOEM). For the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, the 2013 flood actually began on September 9th, with inundating rains days prior to the 11th. Michael will present the experiences during the immediate response, impacts over the next critical 96 hours, and challenges over the entire two week EOC activation.  Recovery challenges will also be discussed, as government and the community scrambled to beat the onset of winter and then runoff flooding.