Just how high was the Big Thompson Flood? And how often will a flood like that occur?

Recently, the family and I were taking in an afternoon in Boulder, CO. After taking in a lunch at the lovely Dushanbe Tea Room we took a stroll along Boulder Creek. Right by a retaining wall stands this object.

IMG_8727

This monument demarcates how high the waters rise for a flood of various magnitude. Zooming in a bit to the demarcations we see the following (from bottom to top):

Version 2

Version 2Version 3

The thing that makes flood levels so interesting mathematically is that in addition to height, they’re measured in probabilistic time. That is, every 100 years we can expect one flood to reach as high as the demarcation of the “100 Year Level”. Every 500 years we can expect one flood to reach as high as the “500 Year Level” and so on.

So… what does that suggest for the marker near the tippy top of this monument, marking the height of the Big Thompson flood of 1976?

Version 4

 

Suggested Facilitation

Provide the following (enhanced) picture.

flooding_heights

Follow up with your favorite problem kicking off protocol. I’d suggest either a Notice/Wonder or a Know/Need-to-Know.

Potential Questions

  • How high did the water level get during the Big Thompson flood?
  • How often does an event like that happen?
  • How high are these markers off the ground?

For this last one, you’ll probably need some sort of base level unit to measure the heights, for perspective’s sake. Allow me to provide one additional picture.

kid_height

(Hey, if it’s good enough for Stadel, it’s good enough for me.)

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One Response to Just how high was the Big Thompson Flood? And how often will a flood like that occur?

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is brilliant! Thank you for sharing the ready-made resources also!!!

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