Heavy rains Tuesday night washed out fences, culverts and downed trees near Durango-La Plata County Airport.
The downpour washed out a culvert on County Road 309-A near the airport, and it will be closed for several days for repair work.
As of Wednesday morning, La Plata County Road and Bridge officials were unsure how long it will take to repair the road, and motorists should plan to take alternate routes.
Also, County Road 310, southwest of the airport, was temporarily closed because damage from rains, but it reopened around midnight Tuesday.
Several other gravel roads in the area were damaged by the rains, and a news release issued by La Plata County said motorists should expect rough driving in the region.
Dallas Davis, who lives off County Road 307, spent most of the morning clearing downed trees on the private access road that services his house and three others.
“Our road got beat up pretty bad,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of debris on the road, we’re talking 16-inch (in diameter) trees that got ripped out by the roots. They were laying all over the road this morning.”
Davis got up early and left for work at 6:30 a.m., but discovered the access road was impassable. Instead, he was on a backhoe at 7 a.m. and he worked until 10 a.m. to get a narrow passage cleared through the access road to County Road 307.
“There’s at least four fences between the neighbor and I, and they are all gone,” he said.
Dallas said a neighbor estimated 2 inches of rain fell in the area beginning about 8:15 p.m. in a storm that lasted for several hours. He was unsure when the rain stopped.
He said at 10 p.m. he could hear Salt Creek, which is about 300 yards from his house, “roaring.”
At places he estimated water was 10 feet deep in Salt Creek, which normally, at its deepest runs about 1-foot deep. Most of the creek, he said, was flowing neck-deep.
Miles of fences both east and west of Davis were washed out, leaving cattle in the pastures free to roam.
Davis leases 49 acres of land to a neighbor who pastures 25 cow-calf pairs on it.
“The cattle have free range for as far as we know down by the river, and at least until you hit (County Road 309), and that’s about a mile and a half away,” he said.
Davis was unsure if his insurance would help pay for the damage, but he thought most of the repairs to the private road and his neighbors’ and his property would be paid for out of their wallets.
The ground is so saturated, Davis said, he and neighbors may wait until the monsoons end before cleanup begins because they fear the whole episode could be repeated.
The National Weather Service predicts chances of rain in the region will range from 50% to 70% through Sunday.
Megan Stackhouse with the National Weather Service said this is the first monsoon since 2016 that has really delivered for Southwest Colorado.
“We’re going to get more monsoonal moisture coming into the region for the next several days,” Stackhouse said. “It’s really not looking like things will dry out until potentially the middle part of next week, and these storms will be capable of producing heavy rain, and they’ll be slow-moving.”
Stackhouse said the potential exists for multiple storms to hit the same area through next week.
“One thing about the monsoon season, it depends on where the storms track,” she said. “So yesterday, you guys saw some of the heavier stuff. But for the next few days, there will be that chance. It just might track a little east or a little west, but either way, the potential is certainly there, and it’s going to be good moisture either way when the storm breaks.”
As of Tuesday, Durango had recorded 2.58 inches of rain for July compared with 1.6 inches for all of July 2020. July’s average rainfall in Durango is 1.72 inches.
In June, Durango received 0.34 of an inch of rain. In June 2020, Durango received 0.25 of an inch. Normal June rainfall for Durango is 0.45 of an inch.
Wednesday afternoon, Davis and his neighbors were going down to Salt Creek to try to salvage some fencing that was at the bottom of the creek bed.
“It’s all mangled at the bottom of the river, and we’re going to try and get it,” he said.