You ranked them: 10 top stories in America in 2013

It was a year of stormy headlines in 2013, from the fierce partisan rancor surrounding "Obamacare" to the emotionally charged divisions over guns, gay marriage, and race – as well as the devastating weather that afflicted the nation's heartland.

But 2013 also saw some new beginnings: New York's One World Trade Center officially became the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776 feet – a symbolic presence of US resilience and renewal. But even as a rebuilt "Freedom Tower" heralded the beginning of a new era of sorts, anxieties old and new were a heavy presence in many people's minds. Indeed symbols of freedom were suddenly jarred with the bombings at the Boston Marathon, a reminder of the more-than-decade-long threat of terrorism. And an ocean of secret documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed a gasp-inducing picture of government surveillance – domestic spying meant to shield Americans from further harm. 

None of these events, however, is your top-ranked US-based story of 2013 – at least not directly. Here are 10 top stories Americans followed in 2013, ranked by respondents to a Nov. 21-25 Monitor/TIPP poll according to the percentage who said they followed the story very closely.

– Harry Bruinius, Staff writer

10. Flooding in Colorado (30 percent)

John Wark/ AP Photo/ File
A residential neighborhood and a connecting road in Lyons, Colo., are cut in two by flood waters as flooding devastates the Front Range and thousands are forced to evacuate on Sept. 13, 2013.

The breadth and intensity of the flooding that took place in Colorado the week after Sept. 11 were staggering. So was the amount of rain that fell in a normally dry state in a normally dry month: Boulder received as much rain in September as it normally gets in a year, and most of that in one five-day period.

Seventeen counties were affected – an area that stretched from the foothills west of Boulder up to Estes Park and east almost to Nebraska. At least eight people died in the floods, and thousands were evacuated, many by helicopter from remote mountain locations. Some 200 miles of state highways and about 50 bridges were wiped out or severely damaged, isolating many communities partially or completely.

It was a tough disaster by any measure for a state that has been hit hard in recent years by wildfires, with hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to state infrastructure and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. Certain towns – such as tiny Jamestown, in the foothills west of Boulder, and Lyons, a town of 2,000 known for its bluegrass festivals – were hit particularly hard, and the rebuilding process is only just beginning.

– Amanda Paulson, Staff writer

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