Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Anniversary of the 2013 Floods

Five years ago today, the rain began to fall in what became one of the state’s most significant flood disasters, impacting twenty-four counties and causing millions of dollars in damage. The Colorado communities affected by the September 2013 floods showed amazing resilience and are thriving once again.

Here are some State of Colorado resources that tell the story of the 2013 floods and subsequent recovery efforts:

Flood damage near Jamestown, Colorado, September 2013.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Colorado State Publications Blog

Is Your House on Shaky Ground?

Ground subsidence problems are very real in Colorado. Whether from naturally occurring elements in the soil or from the effects of Colorado’s mining history, the ground in certain parts of Colorado is susceptible to settling, collapsing, expanding, heaving, or swelling, all of which can have potentially hazardous effects on structures. So how do you know if your area is affected by subsidence and swelling soils? And if it is, what should you do?
When the Ground Lets You Down, a title in the Colorado Geological Survey’s popular Rock Talk series, provides an excellent introduction to these types of hazards. The geological processes are illustrated in simple diagrams and information is provided about insurance, emergency situations, and where to go for help.
Another helpful publication, produced especially for homeowners, is A Guide to Swelling Soils for Colorado Homebuyers and Homeowners. This helpful guidebook can be checked out from our library or through Prospector. 
Additional helpful resources available from our library include:

Also, search the term “geologic hazards” in our library’s online catalog for additional resources.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Wildfire Information

Here’s where to go to get the latest on the multiple wildfires burning across the state:

Additionally, here are some helpful publications and websites:

Spring Fire, July 3, 2018. Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Fire Protection & Control.
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Summer Floods

As hot and dry as it has been so far this summer, it’s hard to believe that most of Colorado’s floods — the September 2013 floods being a significant exception — occur in June and July. In our library you can find many resources on the history of flooding in Colorado. Many flood events are documented in publications available from our library.

The Northern Colorado Floods of 1997
1997 was a significant year for floods in Colorado. Lessons of Recovery: A Review of the 1997 Colorado Flood Disaster provides an overview of the various floods that occurred in northern Colorado in July of that year.
“In Fort Collins and in the Morgan County community of Weldona, the 1997 flood events far exceeded anything on record or in the memories of long-time residents,” noted the report, which was produced in 1999 by the state’s Office of Emergency Management. Five Fort Collins residents were killed in what is known as the Spring Creek Flood, which caused thousands of dollars in damage and even affected the CSU campus. Larimer County received the heaviest recorded rainfall in 24 hours during that flood event. See my Time Machine Tuesday post from last July for more on the flood and additional resources.
Pawnee Creek, in Logan County, also flooded during this time. CSU’s Colorado Climate Center produced a report on the rainfall for the Pawnee Creek storm. The 1997 floods are also covered in Flood of 97, an state-federal interagency hazard mitigation report, and in Colorado’s 1997 Flood Season in Review, a publication of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).
A little over a month earlier, on June 2, Weld County had experienced significant flooding. The Colorado Water Conservation Board produced an Engineering Technical Report on this event.
1996 Floods
On July 12, 1996, residents near Buffalo Creek in western Jefferson County experienced a disastrous flood exacerbated by the denuded landscape resulting from a recent forest fire. Two people were killed in the flood. For information see The Buffalo Creek Flash Flood of 1996 and Emergency Response, Flood Hazard Mitigation, and Flood Hazard Awareness for Residents of Buffalo Creek, Colorado.
Just three days before, on July 9, southeastern Pueblo experienced a flood at Dry Creek basin, brought on by a heavy thunderstorm. The floodwaters circumvented a levee downstream of a rail crossing, damaging several homes. The Colorado Water Conservation Board’s review of the flood can be accessed from our library.
The Big Thompson Flood
The deadliest flood in Colorado history, the Big Thompson Flood, began on the night of July 31, 1976. The disaster claimed the lives of 144 people and caused over $35 million in damages, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Our library collection includes numerous reports and studies on this flood. Some of the reports that have been digitized and are available online include:

Other Floods

  • One of the most damaging floods in the state’s history occurred when the Arkansas River flooded on June 3, 1921. Exactly seventy-three years to the day, Pueblo again experienced flooding. The second flood is chronicled in the City and County of Pueblo Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan: The June 3, 1994 Flash Flood.
  • Colorado Springs experienced a flood, along with a major hailstorm, on June 17, 1993. Lessons learned from this event were used to create the City of Colorado Springs Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan, completed in cooperation with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.
  • Frenchman Creek, in Phillips County, was hit by flooding on July 30, 1989. Most of the damage occurred to roadways, agricultural lands, and a few buildings in the small town of Paoli. Read the CWCB’s Post Flood Report for details. Information on other floods occurring in 1988 and 1989 can be found in Chronology of Floods in Colorado, published in 1991.
  • The Uncompahgre Valley in Montrose and Delta Counties experienced six summer floods between 1921 and 1983. A Flood Damage Survey Report from the CWCB describes the flooding in this area.
  • On June 3, 1981 a severe thunderstorm and up to 3.5 inches of rain “caused considerable flooding in the town of Milliken [in Weld County] and adjacent farm lands.” The storm also produced hail and tornadoes. “Considerable tornado damage was reported in Denver, Northglenn, Thornton, and Fort Lupton. Hail damage was reported along a line from Northglenn to Greeley and well on to the northeast at many scattered locations,” according to the CWCB’s report on the flood.
  • Many long-time Denverites recall when the South Platte flooded on June 16, 1965, killing twenty-one people. The State Legislature’s report on the flood has been digitized and is available online from our library.

Our library collection contains many more documents about Colorado flooding than just those listed here. Search our online catalog for more resources.
Do you have memories of these or other Colorado floods? Share your reminiscences in the comments section below.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Get Ready for Wildfire Season

With this past winter being relatively dry, fire danger is expected to be higher than usual this year, especially in areas of lower elevation.  The State of Colorado has numerous resources to help you prepare.

  • This consumer alert from the Colorado Division of Insurance will help you determine if your property is adequately insured.
  • The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control offers a helpful Wildfire Information Resource Center website. Here you can find information on education and public awareness, preparedness and mitigation, fire bans and restrictions, and information on any current fires.
  • READYColorado’s wildfire page also has many helpful tips. 
  • The Colorado State Forest Service’s Wildfire Mitigation website is another helpful resource.  Here you can find information on how to protect your home, as well as about wildfire education programs that can help communities prepare.  Also, you can use their Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal to help determine if you are at risk.
  • Planning for Hazards: Wildfire is a resource from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs that can help communities plan for wildfire.

Be sure also to check out these helpful state publications:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Salmonella Outbreak

It’s not a pleasant topic, but it’s certainly an important one for cities and towns to learn from.  Exactly ten years ago, in March and April 2008, the city of Alamosa experienced a deadly Salmonella outbreak that caused at least 442 confirmed illnesses and, according to estimates, as many as 1,300 people – 15{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of Alamosa’s population – may have gotten sick.  One person died.  The cause?  Contaminated drinking water.  “Alamosa’s drinking water comes from deep artesian wells in an aquifer considered to be a protected groundwater source. Prior to the outbreak, the city’s drinking water was not chlorinated for disinfection. A waiver from the statewide requirement for disinfection was granted to Alamosa in 1974,” according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). CDPHE conducted a major cleanup, investigation, and review of the incident and set forth recommendations for strategies that local water systems can use to help reduce the likelihood of waterborne disease outbreaks.  These strategies, along with data and an explanation of the 2008 Alamosa event, can be found in the CDPHE’s report Waterborne Salmonella Outbreak in Alamosa, Colorado, March and April 2008: Outbreak Identification, Response, and Investigation, available online from our library.

Alamosa Water Works. Photo courtesy CDPHE.

Colorado State Publications Blog

September is National Preparedness Month

The recent hurricane events have demonstrated the importance of being prepared for disaster.  Even though we don’t get hurricanes in our state, there are a number of other disasters to prepare for — including both natural disasters (floods, fires, tornadoes, storms, avalanches, rockslides) and manmade disasters (terrorism, active shooters, power outages).  There are many personal incidents to prepare for as well — illness, identity theft, personal safety, home protection, and more., sponsored by Colorado’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, can help you prepare for hazards large and small.

On the site you can find resources on how to create a preparedness plan for your home or office; how to stay informed of emergencies in your area; a calendar of events and training; 8 signs of terrorism; a natural hazards map; pet safety; resources for educators; resources for people with disabilities; and a blog.  Recent entries in their blog include a wide variety of topics including pedestrian safety, business continuity planning, bears, immunizations, heatstroke prevention, campfire safety, internet safety, and drone safety.  Before the next disaster – personal or community-wide – affects you, check out this informative site.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Hurricane Information

2017 is turning out to be a historic year for hurricane activity in the U.S., as the Gulf Coast works to recover from Hurricane Harvey and the Atlantic Coast braces for Hurricane Irma.  While we don’t have to worry about hurricanes in Colorado, our state’s two largest universities both engage in significant research on hurricanes.

At Colorado State University, the Tropical Meteorology Project predicts Atlantic hurricane activity and landfall probability each year.  The project was founded by renowned scientist Dr. William Gray, who passed away in 2016.  Gray began his annual predictions in 1984, and they are continued today by his mentee, Dr. Phil Klotzbach of CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science.  So what did Klotzbach predict for this year?  You can find the 2017 (and previous years’) predictions available online from our library.  The reports contain lots of stats and data supporting the predictions, but the bottom line is, on August 4 Klotzbach and associate Michael Bell predicted that “the probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States Coastline and in the Caribbean is above-normal.”  Given what we are seeing right now as Irma gathers speed in the Caribbean, it looks like the researchers were spot-on.

A different kind of hurricane research takes place at the University of Colorado.  Instead of predicting hurricanes, researchers at the university’s Natural Hazards Center study the aftermath of the events, how they affect the people who live through them, and how emergency responders can learn from the events.  While the Center researches all kinds of disasters, hurricanes make up a significant part of their research because there have been so many devastating ones in the last several decades.  You can find the Center’s reports in our library; some particularly apropos titles include: 

Check out the Natural Hazards Center’s website for preliminary resources on Hurricane Harvey.

*As of this writing the possibility exists for Hurricane Irma to exceed Hurricane Andrew in intensity and damage in Florida.  This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.

Colorado State Publications Blog

1997 Fort Collins Flood

Twenty years ago today a major flood hit Fort Collins.  Heavy rainfall of 3 inches per hour began late in the evening of July 27 and continued throughout the day on the 28th.  Homes were flooded, a train derailed, a gas leak caused an explosion near Prospect Road, and in the end, the flood left five people dead.  The flood also caused major damage to more than a dozen buildings on the Colorado State University Campus, including the Lory Student Center, the Morgan Library, and the Administration Annex.  CSU is recalling the event with a series of articles that include a timeline of the flood, meteorological analysis, videos and slideshows, and personal recollections.

The State Publications Library also has several interesting resources on the 1997 Fort Collins flood, including

The 1997 flood was certainly not the first flood to hit the Fort Collins area, and interestingly, just one year before the flood, the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Natural Hazards Center convened a meeting in Fort Collins to address “What We Have Learned Since the Big Thompson Flood,” Northern Colorado’s worst flood disaster which had hit twenty years before.  The official proceedings from the meeting can be checked out from our library.  Also, following another, smaller flood in June 1992, the City of Fort Collins and the state’s Emergency Management Office issued a Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan for Fort Collins, which can also be checked out from our library.

Flood damage at Colorado State University’s Morgan Library, July 1997.  Photo courtesy Morgan Library.
Colorado State Publications Blog

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

‘Tis the season for fires and floods, and if a disaster threatens your home and family, your furry pals will be affected, too.  According to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), “one of the biggest reasons people return to danger/evacuation zones is to save their pets.”  DHSEM and the state’s emergency preparedness website,, recently offered some recommendations on helping prepare your pets for an evacuation:

  • Build a Kit. Just like we should do for ourselves, create a 72-hour preparedness kit for your pet. Make sure they have extra food, water, medications and toys in case you are unable to get to a store or are forced to evacuate on short notice. 

  • Have a Plan. Your plan needs to include how you will transport your animals in an evacuation, possible routes you will take and your destination or sheltering options. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities or animal shelters can care for your animals in an emergency. Have a list of phone numbers readily available.

  • Know Your Neighbors. Meet your neighbors before a disaster strikes and develop a neighborhood plan for pet assistance. If a disaster occurs while you are at work or away from home you may need assistance from a neighbor in reaching your pets.

  • Pets Feel Stress Too. When you are stressed, your pet will feel that stress too and they can act out because of this. Having a plan in place for your pet before an emergency will help lessen the stress for both of you.

For further information, see the publications Providing for Pets During Disasters and Animal Issues in Emergency Management, available from our library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Severe Storms

Yesterday the Colorado front range was hit hard with a storm producing heavy rains, hail, lightning, and high winds.  The months of May and June typically see the most severe thunderstorm activity on the Colorado plains…in fact, Colorado also experienced a severe storm exactly sixty years ago, May 8, 1957.  I found this factoid by viewing the Colorado Extreme Storm Precipitation Data Study, published exactly twenty years ago, May 1997, by the Colorado Climate Center.  A division of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, the Colorado Climate Center keeps volumes of data on Colorado weather, which can be accessed on their website.  Many of their studies and reports, like the one referenced above, have been digitized and are available online.

One of the Extreme Storm report’s co-authors, Dr. Nolan Doesken, still heads the Climate Center and is Colorado’s official State Climatologist.  In his forty years with CSU, Doesken has published dozens of reports, many of which you can find in our library, both online and in print.

The most notable aspect of yesterday’s storm was the extensive, damaging hail.  In 1969, CSU’s Atmospheric Science Department published two technical studies on Colorado hailstorms, The Influence of Vertical Wind Shear on Hailstorm Development and Structure and Stability and Dynamic Processes in the Formation of High Plains HailstormsBoth reports are available online from our library.  Also available online is the report of another year’s severe spring weather:  Numerical Simulation of the May 15 and April 26, 1991 Tornadic ThunderstormsFor more Colorado meteorology resources, search our library’s online catalog.


Image credit:  Wikipedia commons

Colorado State Publications Blog

Caring for Storm-Damaged Trees

Spring snowstorms and freezes like those experienced in Denver metro area this weekend can cause significant tree damage, due to the cold in combination with the weight of the snow on trees that have already leafed out.  If you experienced tree damage this weekend, the Colorado State University Extension and Colorado State Forest Service have several publications that offer helpful tips on caring for storm-damaged trees, and how to prevent damage before a storm:

Photo courtesy Colorado State Forest Service

Colorado State Publications Blog

2017 Colorado Wildfire Outlook

On April 14 the Governor and the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control (DFPC) presented on the outlook for the 2017 wildfire season.  “The number, intensity, and complexity of wildfires in Colorado have been growing exponentially, and experts predict that it will continue to worsen,” notes the Department of Public Safety’s press release.

Each year the DFPC submits a Wildfire Preparedness Plan to the governor.  These plans are available from our library.  You can search our library’s online catalog for numerous other resources on Colorado wildfire preparation, response, and recovery.

The High Park Fire, June 2012, in Larimer County. 

Photo by Sgt. Jesica Geffre, U.S. Army/Colorado National Guard, via Wikipedia

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Avalanches

Avalanche danger is nothing new in Colorado.  Forty years ago, the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research issued their publication Century of Struggle Against Snow:  A History of Avalanche Hazard in San Juan County, ColoradoThe publication, which can be viewed online via our library, examines avalanches and avalanche disasters in the San Juan region of Colorado from 1875-1975.  “San Juan County was a booming gold- and silver-producing area, reaching its peak in population, mineral production, and, correspondingly, avalanche deaths and destruction of property during the period 1880 through World War I.”

According to the publication, major avalanche disasters occurred in March 1884, February 1891, and March 1906.  The latter avalanche took the lives of twelve men employed by the Shenandoah Mine.

Using weather data, photographs, newspaper stories, personal interviews, and other accounts, the publication tells a fascinating story about the danger of avalanches — their causes, geographic areas, case studies, and human stories.  Century of Struggle Against Snow gives the historical background on avalanches while the companion reports Avalanche Release and Snow Characteristics, San Juan Mountains, Colorado and Avalanche Atlas: San Juan County provide further data and technical information.

For more on avalanches yesterday and today, search our library’s web catalog.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The White Ash Mine Disaster

This fall the Colorado School of Mines unveiled a new memorial dedicated to the victims of the White Ash Mine disaster of 1889.  Ten miners lost their lives in the accident near Golden, Colorado.

The White Ash Mine was located adjacent to the Loveland Mine, which had been shut down in 1881 following a fire.  The fire had damaged the 90-foot pillar that separated the two mines.  Meanwhile, water from nearby Clear Creek had been seeping into the Loveland Mine, and after eight years the damaged pillar finally broke, unleashing water into the White Ash Mine and drowning ten workers.

In the 1889 report of the State Coal Mine Inspector, which is available online through our library, inspector John McNeil recounts how he immediately responded to the disaster, which had occurred at about 4pm on September 9, 1889.  In attempting a rescue effort, he found that water had reached a height of 100 feet above the shaft, making survival impossible.  McNeil and White Ash foreman Evan Jones and mine manager Paul Lanius worked all night in the hope of reaching some survivors.  Water was not the only deadly issue they had to contend with, however.  “By three o’clock on the morning of the tenth instant, I lowered a light with a hand line to a depth of 530 feet, at which point it was extinguished by the carbonic acid gas.”  McNeil was also “astonished to find that the water had a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit.”  McNeil and Jones descended the mine in a bucket with a hoisting cable.  They “found that a portion of the old workings on this level were on fire, and judging from the intense heat…felt satisfied that the fire itself would soon reach the shaft timbers, [which were] already smoking.”  Coming back up to the surface, McNeil ordered the two mines be sealed up in order to keep the fire from spreading.  Later in the month the mines were reopened and water pumping and debris clearing began, which took several months.  It was during this cleanup period that the bodies of the ten men were found.

The 1889 report is of enormous historical value relating to this incident, because it not only gives us McNeil’s eyewitness account, but also contains copies of correspondence; information on the investigation; a fold-out illustration of the underground workings of the mine, showing the conditions for the accident; and a list of the names of the deceased.  All other mine fatalities occurring that year are also listed in the report.

Starting in 2009, Golden citizens and civic organizations raised money for the memorial statue, which replaced a small memorial plaque that had been dedicated in 1936 by Golden Mayor Albert Jones, son of foreman Evan Jones. Colorado School of Mines donated the land for the new memorial, which was dedicated on October 29, 2016.

The new memorial commemorating the White Ash Mine disaster.  Photo courtesy Colorado School of Mines.

Colorado State Publications Blog

2016 Wildfires — Disaster Recovery

Junkins Fire.

Were you affected by the recent Junkins Fire, Beulah Hill Fire, or Hayden Pass Fire?  The Governor has declared a disaster emergency for each of these wildfires.  Of the three recent fires, the Junkins Fire was the most destructive, destroying nine homes and nine other structures.  And with the recent warm, dry weather, there is potential for more fires.

Following Colorado’s September 2013 flood disaster, the Governor established the Colorado Resiliency & Recovery Office.  Their website,, offers helpful resources for Coloradans affected by all types of disasters, including the recent wildfires.  In the Recovery section of the website, you can find information on temporary housing and rebuilding your home; FEMA assistance, insurance, and other financial information for individuals and businesses; mental health counseling; legal assistance; and much more.  The website is also a helpful resource for obtaining information on disaster mitigation.  Coloradans can also visit to learn about preparedness.  The Colorado Resiliency & Recovery Office is also working with local governments to streamline disaster mitigation, response and recovery services.  Check out to see what is happening in your community, and how you can get involved.

Junkins Fire photo courtesy Colorado Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Buffalo Creek, 20 Years Later

In July of 1996 — twenty years ago this month — the town of Buffalo Creek was hit by a disastrous flash flood that took two lives and caused severe damage to property.

Buffalo Creek is located in the western foothills of Jefferson County, about an hour from Denver.  It was founded in 1877.  Known for its hiking and biking trails, the area around Buffalo Creek has been tested several times by wildfire, including the 2000 Hi Meadows Fire and the 2002 Hayman Fire. 

The 1996 flood disaster occurred two months after another huge forest fire, this one even closer to the town.  The fire destroyed 18 homes.  According to a Colorado Water Conservation Board report issued in March, 1997, “The cruel irony of the flash flood is that it followed a massive forest fire which burned 12,000 acres of nearby forest land during May 1996.  The combined hardships associated with both of these disasters and the continuing threat of additional flash flooding has produced serious concerns for the remaining residents of Buffalo Creek.”  The flood destroyed the town’s fire station and community center, damaged several homes, destroyed bridges, and washed out parts of Highway 126.  It also wreaked havoc on the town’s water, electricity, and telephone systems.

The denuded landscape along with unusually heavy rains were to blame for the flood.  In southern Colorado, Pueblo had also experienced flooding that same week.  The Buffalo Creek flood is just one of numerous high-profile floods in Colorado, including the 1965 South Platte River flood; the 1976 Big Thompson flood; and the major floods of 2013.  To learn more about flooding in Colorado, search our library’s online catalog.

Aftermath of the 1996 fire and flood at Buffalo Creek.  Photo courtesy USGS.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Predicting Disaster

In 1998 the University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Center issued a paper entitled What Hazards and Disasters Are Likely in the 21st Century — Or Sooner?  This paper predicted that disasters in the new millennium would go beyond the natural disasters of the previous centuries to include:

1.Events and conditions that exacerbate existing technological hazards;
This prediction was mainly related to the fears over Y2K, which passed essentially without incident.  (Search our library’s web catalog for resources on how the State of Colorado prepared for Y2K).  

2.Greater, more deadly impacts of natural hazards – including weather events;
The 2003 Hayman Fire.  Photo courtesy USDA.
The Center nailed this prediction.  Some of the greatest natural disasters in recent history occurred in the 21st century:  The Haiti earthquake (2010), Hurricane Katrina (2005), the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (2004), Japan’s Tohoku Hurricane and Tsunami (2011), the New Zealand Earthquake (2011), and others.  Here in Colorado, the new century saw the terrible fire seasons of 2002 and 2013 and the major floods of 2013.
3.Less confidence in and security for physical facilities, information systems, and databases;
The essay discusses a widespread pager failure that year.  Guess we don’t have to worry about that one anymore.  
4.Human error – intentional and unintentional;
This section relates to technology.  Again the author discusses Y2K here; computer viruses are also discussed.  
5.Biological and chemical hazards, including: Biotechnology hazards, Marine toxins;
The 2011 U.S. cantaloupe listeriosis outbreak started right here in Colorado.  
Interesting that terrorism landed sixth on the author’s list, just three years before 9/11.  Numerous attacks the world over have occurred in the 21st century, including several incidents of domestic terrorism here in the U.S.  The essay does contain this eerie sentence:  “Terrorism may take the form of destruction of infrastructure (as in the New York Trade Center bombing [1993]) and/or harming or killing large numbers of people (as in the Oklahoma City federal office building bombing [1995]).”
7.Distant (international) sources of disasters.

This section of the essay discusses the effects of international disasters on U.S. resources as the world becomes more globalized.
Search our library’s web catalog and digital repository for numerous other publications on disasters and hazards, including publications from Colorado state emergency management agencies as well as CU’s Natural Hazards Center.
Colorado State Publications Blog

May is Building Safety Month

Governor Hickenlooper has declared May, 2016 as Colorado Building Safety Month.  This month brings recognition to the work of architects, engineers, and construction workers, as well as fire prevention professionals, to reduce risk of structure fire, collapse, flooding, airborne pollutants, and other potential injury-causing structural defects and problems.

In our library you can read more about what the State of Colorado is doing to make sure our buildings are safe and sound, including safety standards and regulation of the building design and construction professions.  Start by visiting the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control’s Fire and Life Safety webpage, which includes information on building fire suppression systems, the Hotel/Motel Fire Safety Act, permitting and inspection information, and more.  Then be sure to check out these publications available from our library:


Carbon monoxide:

Case studies:


Fire prevention:


Government buildings:

Home safety, general:

Lead-based paint:

Licensing and regulation of professions:


School facilities:

 Swelling soils/subsidence (earth movements):

 Wood burning stoves:

  • Wood for Home Heating:  How to Install a Wood Burning System Correctly and Safely.  Colorado Office of Energy Conservation, 1981.
  •  Using Coal and Wood Stoves Safely.  Colorado Office of Energy Conservation, 1974.

You can also view our collection of building codes in our Incorporated by Reference collection, which are materials pertaining to specific rules in the Colorado Code of Regulations.

Click to read the Governor’s Proclamation.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Winter Weather and Insurance

Three days after the coming of spring, Colorado returned to winter today with a major blizzard.  If you find yourself needing to make an insurance claim, whether it be from an auto accident, a personal injury, or damage to your home, be sure to read the Colorado Division of Insurance’s Winter Mishaps and Your Insurance.  Here you can find helpful tips as well as resources such as free smartphone apps.  See also the Division’s brochure Winter Weather and Insurance, available online from our library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Volcanoes and Volcanic Activity

Volcanoes in Colorado?

While we don’t have volcanoes in Colorado today, volcanoes certainly played a role in the geological formation of the area.  Evidence of volcanoes can be found as close to Denver as Dinosaur Ridge.  In the Colorado Geological Survey’s Dinosaurs in Our Backyard:  A Dynamic Visit to Dinosaur Ridge, Fossil Trace and Red Rocks – Interactive CD-Rom and Audio Tour, available for checkout from our library, the narrator describes the evidence of volcanoes at this prehistory-rich site just west of Denver:

During the deposition of the Dakota formation, volcanoes north and west of here were spewing ash into the Colorado sky.  A layer of white ash from one of these volcanic eruptions is visible at this site.  This ash contained radioactive uranium elements, which slowly changed to lead over time.  By comparing the ratio of radioactive uranium to lead today, scientists from the United States Geological Survey were able to determine the age of the ash and the surrounding rock layers to be 106 million years old.

The San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado also show evidence of volcanic activity.  This is described in a chapter of the University Press of Colorado book The Western San Juan Mountains:  Their Geology, Ecology, and Human History, also available for checkout from our library.  “The San Juan volcanic field is part of a much larger volcanic region that was active throughout the Southern Rocky Mountains from about 40 million to 18 million years ago.  The volcanic activity…produced lavas and pyroclastic debris that covered all of south-central Colorado and the north-central part of New Mexico,” according to the book.

Colorado’s neighboring states have even more significant associations with volcanic activity.  New Mexico is home to the large Valles Caldera, which you can read about in the Colorado Geological Survey’s Field Trip Guide to the Quaternary Valles Caldera and Pliocene Cerros del Rio Volcanic FieldThe most likely place for a volcano to occur in the future near Colorado, however, is to the north of us, in Yellowstone National Park which is known for its geothermal activity.