Thursday, June 7, 2012

After the storm...

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 9:51 AM

I was raised the daughter of a wheat farmer in Kansas, so hail was considered a four-letter word in our household. Especially this time of year — wheat harvest weeks away. A year's income could get wiped out in 15 minutes, so we watched the skies with trepidation.

Those feelings of angst still churn in my stomach when hail begins to pelt my lawn, garden and flower pots. Like thousands of others in Colorado Springs last night, I watched golf-ball sized hailstones mow down my petunias, periwinkle, snap dragons, marigolds, geraniums, rose bushes and hibiscus. Half way through the storm, my deck plants looked like this — not completely wiped out:

Colorado Springs hail

Who knew that another wave of even more furious hail would strike within minutes, bombarding what was left? After 30 minutes of abuse, my deck plants looked like this:

Colorado Springs hail

Now I'm wondering whether to start over, just wait to see if the flowers make a comeback or just forget it.

Mike Estes, owner of Rick's Garden Center, tells us that for plants to bounce back requires them to have some leaves to process sunlight.

"Sometimes plants can regenerate from root stock," he says, but adds, "Without the leaves, you don't have anything, really. It's tragic when it happens.

"Trees will bounce back next year," he says. "It's early enough in the season they could regenerate this year. But trees will have bruises and scars on the top sides of their branches. They heal to a certain extent, but the marks are always there."

Estes says gardeners can try again, because there's plenty of growing season left. But in his experience, if a second weather setback strikes, "they get discouraged and won't do it again."

On a brighter note, 15 hours after the storm hit, roofing companies were already knocking on doors in the Knob Hill area, which took the brunt of the storm. Hail was piled three feet deep on Lelaray, one witness reports.

Last year, roofers poured in following a hail storm, creating jobs and pumping a lot of money into the community.

At the expense of insurance companies, we might see a flurry of economic activity from car repairs, roof repairs, landscaping expenditures and the like. So like they say, "There's always something to be thankful for."

Last night's storm prompted Mayor Steve Bach to call a news conference for this morning to talk about storm damage, clean-up efforts and rescues that were made.

The city also issued this release:

In the light of last night’s storm, flash flood awareness reminders are in order. Flash flooding is the most common natural hazard in Colorado Springs. Flash floods tend to occur from May through September, and are usually caused by thunderstorms that are out of sight and hearing range of people downstream. Runoff from the mountains can quickly cause the water levels of small creeks and dry streambeds to rise to unsafe levels. These walls of water are fast moving and can easily reach heights of 10-20 feet. Know which streams and waterways are nearby, and where you are in relation to them.
You should never attempt to cross an area that is flooding. It only takes 6 inches of fast moving water to knock you off your feet. Just 10 inches of moving water can move a car, and 2 feet can float your vehicle. Your best course of action is to immediately seek higher ground.
Parents are encouraged to remind their children that drainage ditches are not a safe place to play. A dry channel can be filled with rushing water in seconds during a flash flood event, even when rainfall is not occurring in the immediate area. Ditch playing in ditches educational materials aimed at raising awareness in children and parents are available on springsgov.com.
A flash flood watch means that flash flooding is possible. Be alert and prepared to move to high ground. Watch for rising water levels or unusual street flooding. Listen to local radio or television stations or Weather Service radio for possible flash flood warnings and bulletins. Locate a hand crank or battery powered radio and extra batteries.
A flash flood warning means that a flash flood is occurring or is about to occur. Evacuate the flood hazard area immediately. Do not attempt to cross moving water either on foot or in your vehicle. Keep a hand crank or battery powered radio tuned to a local station and follow all emergency instructions.
An urban and small stream advisory means that flooding of streams, streets, and low-lying areas, such as railroad underpasses and urban storm drains is occurring.

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