Photos Show Why the Colorado Floods Are Being Called ‘Biblical’
Four people in Colorado this week already lost their lives in the record-breaking rains and floods that are battering parts of the state, forcing thousands to evacuate their homes.
On Friday, Governor John Hickenlooper declared a disaster emergency for 14 counties from the Wyoming border to Colorado Springs. President Obama also declared a federal state of emergency for Boulder, Larimer, and El Paso counties, allowing FEMA to deploy four rescue teams to those areas.
This afternoon, Reuters reports that a fifth victim, a 60-year-old woman who was swept away by flood waters, is now missing and presumed dead.
With no signs of a slow-down, even the comparatively shorter rains expected this weekend are expected to cause further flash-flooding as areas of Colorado's landscape are already well oversaturated.
Sandra Postel, National Geographic's Freshwater Fellow, tells the magazine that the flooding may be linked to recent droughts, which have hardened the soil of the Colorado River Basin, preventing it from absorbing much of the rainfall. Forest fires may also shoulder some of the blame; a portion of the vegetation normally responsible for trapping rainwater burned to the ground in recent years.
The most pressing question remains: How much of a hand has global warming played in these events? Climate Central's Andrew Freedman writes:
"It will take climate scientists many months to complete studies into whether manmade global warming made the Boulder flood more likely to occur, but the amount by which this event has exceeded past events suggests that manmade warming may have played some role by making the event worse than it would have otherwise been."
News and social media outlets are updating pictures regularly. What follows are some of the most striking.