Runoff news

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Flash flood warnings are up this afternoon for the northern Front Range foothills, Boulder and the western Denver suburbs until 6:00 p.m.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

Residents along the Fraser River awoke Monday to the highest water levels seen in roughly two decades, with flooding in some areas within reach of condominium buildings and lodging units…

The National Weather Service out of Denver on Monday issued a “small stream flood advisory” for Eastern Grand County until 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The advisory warns individuals with interests along the river to use “extreme caution” due to high river flows making river banks unstable.

“We weren’t expecting this high of a peak,” said Dave Bennett, Water Resources Project Manager for Denver Water. The rapid increase in runoff is happening at a time when reservoirs are already near full from East Slope water supplies and transmountain diversions. Gross Reservoir, the recipient of Fraser River Basin diversions, “should be full today,” Bennett said. Denver water was diverting a small supply of water on Monday, but as soon as Gross filled, the utility would cease its diversions…

That remaining quantity of snow could determine whether Granby Reservoir fills. By Monday, the reservoir was 14 feet from full, officials said.

From the Montrose Daily Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

“Now the Uncompahgre (River) is really coming off the San Juans (Mountains) above Ridgway,” said Dan Crabtree, water management group chief for the Bureau of Reclamation. “It’s really starting to run. The Uncompahgre flowing into Ridgway Reservoir is flowing at about 1,200 cubic feet per second (cfs).” Water levels in the Uncompahgre near Olathe fluctuate but have risen dramatically: Late last week, flows climbed from 500 cfs to more than 1,300 cfs, while they soared from 610 cfs Sunday night to above 1,000 cfs Monday morning, Crabtree said. “The Uncompahgre is really cooking right now,” he said…

A crest of 12.4 feet, “just below the 12.5-foot flood stage” is expected on the Colorado near Grand Junction early today, said Byron Lawrence, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service…

Ridgway Reservoir, fed by a now-turgid Uncompahgre River, is full, and its excess water is spilling, said Mike Berry of the Tri-County Water Conservancy District. Releases had been increased from 300 to 900 cfs in order to slow the rate at which the reservoir was filling, but water began spilling Monday morning, Berry said.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Janey Urquhart):

The Slaughterhouse gauge indicated that section of the Roaring Fork topped 6,000 cubic feet per second sometime in the wee hours of Monday and was running at 5,700 cfs at about 9:30 a.m. However, the gauge at Emma, below the Roaring Fork’s confluence with the Fryingpan, showed a lower flow, suggesting a malfunction with the Slaughterhouse gauge…

Farther down the valley, the Shoshone rapid on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon was flowing at 14,200 cfs at noon and the canyon bike path was closed. Flows at the Glenwood Springs whitewater park on the Colorado were hitting 22,500 cfs by late morning. The big water at the park has apparently given some boaters trouble; kayaker Chase Macek at Alpine Quest Sports said he helped out when he saw two private rafts flip at the wave on Sunday…

Even the lower Fryingpan above Basalt, controlled by releases from the Ruedi Reservoir dam, was flowing higher on Monday. The Bureau of Reclamation announced it would bump up flows by 100 cfs in two increments, putting total flows at 248 cfs. On the Pan, it’s anglers who keep an eye on how much water is coursing downstream. Boaters at Ruedi will find the reservoir water level about six feet away from full, according to the BLM…

The rapid melting of the snow has ramifications for more than river runners. It could affect Colorado’s water supply later in the summer, said Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the National Resources Conservation Service, noting the snow is already gone from a lot of the NRCS snowpack measuring sites. The snowpack was at 30 percent of average for the Upper Colorado River Basin on Monday, but was still up 33 percent, compared to last year, according to Gillespie.

Up in Boulder Canyon they’re trying to keep from losing a bridge to the fast and furious runoff. Here’s a report from 9News.com. From the article:

Authorities brought in an earth mover on Tuesday afternoon to pull out the debris after Boulder Police say the culvert-style bridge in Boulder Canyon was partially washed out overnight and debris built up behind it, plugging the culvert and causing water to back up. After working for nine hours, crews managed to slowly remove the debris and allow a controlled release of water to resume flowing under the bridge. Crews say they are happy with the way the water is flowing and are comfortable with the situation. Commander Rick Brough with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department says the water has dropped several feet behind the collapsed bridge. The water building behind the bridge forced police and fire crews to scramble to clear people from paths along Boulder Creek because of the possibility of a surge of water. Officials say the bridge, located near the Red Lion Restaurant in the 37400 block of Boulder Canyon Drive, could still give way sending more debris downstream.

From The Aspen Times:

The Bureau of Reclamation announced it would be making additional releases into the lower Fryingpan from Ruedi Reservoir, east of Basalt, on Tuesday, after bumping up flows by 100 cubic feet per second on Monday. Flows in the river were expected to hit 650 cfs Tuesday, but the bureau re-evaluated its need to move water and said it would hold the release from the reservoir to 600 cfs. With the contribution of flows out of Rocky Fork, a tributary to the Fryingpan below the dam, the bureau was estimating flows of about 640 cfs coming down the Fryingpan. Flows coming into the reservoir were topping 1,060 cfs, the bureau reported, prompting the need to increase its release out of the lake. According to Fletcher, the county has been told flows below the dam could increase to 800 cfs in the near future. “It’s going to be interesting,” she said…

Twin Lakes Reservoir on the far side of Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen, is filling rapidly. Diversions from the upper Roaring Fork drainage to that side of the Continental Divide will cease, and water managers expect the Fork to rise by another 600 cfs by Saturday as a result, she said. The Crystal River, south of Carbondale, is also raging, and crews placed sandbags along its shore early Monday in a section between Redstone and the town’s fire station, she said. The snowpack was not expected to produce flooding danger this year, according to Fletcher, but an August-like spike in temperatures last weekend has triggered rapid runoff around the state.

From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

Due to fast mountain snowmelt, the Poudre River is running at its highest flow level since 1999, according to the city of Fort Collins utilities department.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The [Cache la Poudre River] reached a height of 8.14 feet at 8:30 a.m., flowing at 3,950 cubic feet per second, or cfs. The last time the river reached that height was April 30, 1999 when the river hit 10.46 feet with a flow of 7,710 cfs in Fort Collins. Bob Smith, Fort Collins city water planner, said Tuesday the high flows pose little flooding threat to the city. The river banks have plenty of capacity to handle more water, he said, adding that in 1983, the Poudre flowed at 6,700 cfs without incident.

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