Why do flash floods occur in Manitou Springs, CO?

A severe flash flood would be an economic and human catastrophe for Manitou Springs. But, why do flash floods occur here? To answer this question, we need to learn more about the climate and hydrology of the area.

First, view a map of local drainage systems. Use this map to answer questions 5 and 6:

(5) Describe the terrain over which Fountain Creek passes from its source high in the mountains through Manitou Valley.

(6) Explain how this course affects stream velocity, and therefore flash flood conditions.

Geographers often represent the climate of a place with a climograph, which graphs monthly temperature and precipitation averages for a location.

Refer to Fig. 4 as you answer questions 7 and 8:

Figure 4. Temperature and precipitation averages for Manitou Springs, CO. Source: Temperature data derived from National Climate Data Center (NCDC) TD 9641 Clim 81 1961-1990 Normals. Precipitation data derived from NCDC Cooperative Stations, 1948-1992.

(7) Please describe seasonal changes in Manitou Springs' temperature and precipitation.

(8) Judging from the climograph, when is Manitou Springs' peak flash flood season, and why? Think about the weather conditions that typically set the stage for a flash flood.

Now that you are familiar with the relationships between climate and flash floods, it is time to learn more about how a flood could affect Manitou Springs. Please continue to the Scenario lesson.


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