Runoff (snowpack) news: Peak past tense

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From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Heidi Rice):

“In the Rifle area of the Colorado River, it’s already reached its high point and although the flows remain somewhat high, it’s below flood range,” said Brian Lawrence, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. The runoff was accelerated by mild temperatures this year in western Colorado, causing the peak runoff to take place sooner than usual…This year the river peaked on May 21 at 19,440 cfs…The runoff is expected to be high for the next two or three weeks and then slowly taper off.

From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Brandon Gee):

Jeff Colton, a meteorologist with the weather service in Grand Junction, said both rivers peaked last week, on May 21. The Elk River near Milner rose to 7.4 feet, just above its flood stage, and the Yampa River at Steamboat Springs peaked at 5.7 feet, well below its flood stage, Colton said. The designated flood stage for both rivers is 7 feet…

At about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Yampa River near Fifth Street in Steamboat Springs was flowing at 2,630 cubic feet per second, compared with a historical mean of 2,240 cfs and median of 2,120 cfs, according to U.S. Geological Survey station readings. The Elk River near Milner was flowing at 3,900 cfs, compared with a historical mean of 2,610 cfs and median of 2,420 cfs. A flood advisory remains in effect for the Elk River. Colton said that is because the river continues to flow above its “bankfull” stage of 6 feet…

There is little snowpack left to melt and feed flows in the area, and Colton said he expects local flows to drop dramatically in coming weeks. Colton also noted that June is Steamboat’s driest month and typically sees just 1.43 inches of precipitation. There was no snowpack remaining Tuesday morning at 8,400 feet at Dry Lake, at 8,700 feet on the Elk River or at 8,880 feet on Lynx Pass, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service SNOTEL station readings. The historical snow water equivalent for the three sites on the same date is 4 inches, 2.7 inches and 1.2 inches, respectively. At 9,400 feet on Rabbit Ears Pass, the snow water equivalent is 4.5 inches, compared with a historical average of 18.1 inches. At 10,500 feet on Buffalo Pass, the snow water equivalent is 35.6 inches, compared with a historical average of 47.1 inches. Across all sites in the Yampa River and White River basins, the snowpack is just 42 percent of average. Last year, the basin-wide snowpack was 118 percent of average.

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