Experts often differ on what you should do if your car is swept into floodwaters.
In some cases, it may be best to exit your vehicle and seek higher ground. But El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose says that isn't the case if your car is sucked into floodwaters along U.S. Highway 24.
"Statistically you are safer in the car, than if you step out," Rose says.
Specifically, he says, drivers should stay buckled up in their vehicles with the windows closed; in this type of flash flooding, it's unlikely that the car will completely submerge and drown its occupants. Most cars swept away in recent floods have bobbed along a ravine that parallels U.S. 24, or slid down Serpentine Drive near Manitou Springs. Generally, a boulder stops the car, and the occupants can ride out the water until it subsides.
"You got to remember there are big rocks," Rose says. "It's better to have all the protection you can get."
(That danger was underlined Tuesday morning, with news that 17-year-old Rose Hammes suffered blunt-force trauma and drowned while trying to ride out Monday's flooding under a bridge in Colorado Springs.)
It's also a good idea to keep a hammer or glass-breaking tool handy in your car, especially if you've got power windows. If the vehicle fills with water, the windows won't work; the tool can be used to break the glass and escape.
Of course, the safest alternative is to avoid the highway in bad weather, says Tom Magnuson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Pueblo.