Road hit by `wall of water’
A Marble man who was taking pictures of Mount Sopris yesterday was almost swept away by an image he will carry with him for the rest of his life.
Justin Plumlee had just returned to his van after taking pictures of the mountain, when he looked up to see a 10-foot wall of water that exploded nearby culverts, buried his van in mud and came uncomfortably close to carrying him away.
“It scared the hell out of me,” said Plumlee. “I’ve never been so close to something that deadly.”
Light rain yesterday afternoon forced Plumlee to abandon his picture taking and return to his van, which was parked on the north side of Highway 133, near Avalanche Creek Road. By the time he got back to his vehicle the rain had turned into a downpour, and pea-sized hail had begun to fall.
The hail then graduated to dime-sized, and eventually Plumlee said he had to duck quarter-sized balls of ice for about five minutes, “and the whole time the rain was really coming down.
“When everything stopped I heard a low rumble, like you do when an earthquake is hitting. I looked up and saw trees in the ravine above me being knocked around … and then an actual wall of water that was at least 10 feet high appeared.”
Plumlee was able to get far enough away from the ravine to avoid the water, but was nevertheless bowled over by what he witnessed. He said the water crashed into several culverts, causing them to explode. He said eight-inch metal I-beams were twisted up like straws by the force of the water.
“You have to see it to believe it,” he said.
The water roared down the ravine for what Plumlee estimates was about a half-hour, and at times the height of the flow reached 15 feet. When the deluge was over, Plumlee’s van was trapped by the mud that came down with the water.
“My van will be stuck there for days and days and days until they get the road rebuilt,” said Plumlee, who lived in the area in the 1980s and returned a year ago. “I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years in Colorado.”
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