High-Tech Rain Gauge Installed to Help Anticipate Flash Flood Risk

New technology will hopefully give the Colorado Department of Transportation a better idea of when it's best to close Highway 24 near Manitou Springs.

A new video and sensor rain gauge will let them know exactly what to expect on Williams Canyon when it rains.

When flash flooding hit Highway 24 last year, many drivers weren't prepared. That's something CDOT officials don't want to see repeated this year.

"When it rains we need to know exactly what we're in store for downstream," said CDOT Project Manager Andy Stecklein.

Right now, Highway 24 is shut down during flash flood warnings until the threat is gone, which can be a major inconvenience for commuters.

"If it starts dumping, they shut it down. I've seen cars on the highway until 2 a.m. sometimes just trying to get home," said Megan Vayhingar who lives in Manitou.

On Tuesday, crews installed new video rain monitoring equipment in Williams Canyon. It will give officials a better idea of just how threatened the highway is.

"You'll be able to see what's in the flow, which will be a huge benefit because you can actually see what's coming," said Bill Payne, the data chief.

The equipment will collect rain data every 15 minutes, or every five minutes when it's flooding.

"CDOT will be able to make a very good decision when it comes to shutting down the highway as opposed to shutting it down based on weather patterns," said Stecklein.

It's good news for commuters, as CDOT tries to find the balance between safety and convenience.

The second piece of equipment will be put into place this Thursday.


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