Denver and surrounding areas were pounded by severe weather Thursday afternoon, with hail and thunderstorms shutting down a stretch of Interstate 25. Several intersections were flooded, and water turned streets, including Colfax Avenue, into streams.
Heavy rain washed dirt and debris onto the southbound lanes of I-25 at 23rd Avenue before 5 p.m. Thursday, closing two lanes, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Highway crews used plow trucks to clear debris from the highway. Nearby sections of the highway were flooded as drivers looked for high spots and slowly made their way.
West Colfax Avenue near Sheridan Boulevard for a time looked more like a river as fast-moving water streamed along. Multiple streets and areas in Denver became submersed for a time, including the intersection of West 33rd Avenue and Irving Street in the West Highland neighborhood.
The Denver Fire Department and its dive team responded to the area of West 38th Avenue and Fox Street because of a submerged vehicle near an I-25 underpass. The dive team didn’t find anyone in the vehicle, and fire officials urged motorists not to drive through standing or streaming water.
@Denver_Fire on scene of a vehicle submerged near 38th and Fox. Dive crews searched the vehicle to confirm no parties trapped in vehicle. All divers are out of the water. Please do not drive through standing water. pic.twitter.com/edo4sDV0lk
— Denver Fire Department (@Denver_Fire) June 29, 2023
About 6 p.m. and east of Denver, the I-70 corridor was hammered with hail that piled up deep in some areas, and flash flooding ensued. Colorado 36 was closed in both directions at Schumaker Road, according to Bennett-Watkins Fire Rescue. Parts of the highway were flooded between Watkins and Bennett. Motorists were advised to avoid the area and take alternate routes as emergency crews responded to calls for help.
The National Weather Service in Boulder described the hail as “widespread plowable hail” with accumulations of 3 to 6 inches between Watkins and Bennett. Depths in some areas were 12 inches, and the hail was described as the size of a pingpong ball. Nearby a power pole was blown down by strong winds on Wolf Creek Road, south of Strasburg, according to the National Weather Service.
At Denver International Airport, thunderstorms with strong winds and hail led to long and widespread flight delays. Airport officials said travelers were experiencing weather delays of up to two hours. As of about 7 p.m., there were close to 200 flight delays throughout Thursday at DIA. Close to 40 flights were canceled.
At Coors Field, the start of the Colorado Rockies game was delayed because of the weather. Late in the afternoon, the field was covered with a tarp as players slid headfirst on the hail-covered surface. Other players made hail angels in moments of childlike joy. The entryway from the dugout to the clubhouse below the stands was packed with knee-deep hail as a Rockies worker used a bucket to scoop and remove the hail.
On Friday in Denver showers are likely with a possible thunderstorm after 3 p.m., according to the weather service.