Click the link to read the article on the Fort Collins Coloradoan website (Miles Blumhardt). Here’s an excerpt:
A tragic night in Fort Collins 26 years ago birthed what grew into the single largest daily precipitation network in the U.S. The July 1997 Spring Creek Flood killed five people, injured 54 and caused millions in damages. The catastrophe turned into a grassroots collaboration that served as impetus for the creation of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, which has grown from its humble Fort Collins beginnings into 26,000 volunteer citizen scientists across the country and beyond.
“I had never seen a storm like that in my entire life,” said Nolan Doesken, Colorado’s state climatologist at the time and founder of CoCoRaHS…
It wasn’t just the copious amount of rain that caused one of the city’s most damaging natural disasters July 27-28, 1997, but also the wide variance in rain received across the city. Western parts of the city saw more than 14 inches of rain in 31 hours, while the center of the city saw 6 inches and eastern areas 2 inches. The 14.5 inches was nearly as much precipitation as the city sees in an average year. But those measurements weren’t known because there wasn’t a way to reliably measure torrential rains in Colorado, Doesken said.
“The state had just completed a study of extreme rain events at the time,” he said. “The conclusion was we didn’t for sure know how much rain fell during past storms producing rain that creates flooding. I felt this was my chance.”