Runoff news: Colorado’s Surface Water Conditions from the CDWR

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I’ve been watching the Colorado Division of Water Resources South Platte River at Denver (PLADENCO) station this morning. Clear Creek at Golden is up there as well.

From the Colorado Daily:

High-water advisories and closures on Boulder Creek and the North and South St. Vrain Creeks will remain in effect through the weekend, with cooler temperatures and widespread rain forecast for the area, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.

From the Telluride Daily Planet (Matthew Beaudin):

Over the weekend here, Ingram Falls thickened as wide as some had seen it run, and water from the high country poured into the San Miguel River. “It’s been crankin,” said Erik Dalton, a boater who owns Jagged Edge. “It’s a conveyor belt all the way to Naturita.”

That conveyor belt peaked at nearly 2,000 cubic feet per second near Placerville toward the end of the weekend — absolutely ripping when contrasted with the fact that just days before it was moving at less than 1,000 cfs. By yesterday afternoon, the flows were down to about 1,150 cfs in Placerville, though they rose toward Uravan as the river collected more of its tributaries. The Dolores River just outside of Dolores was flushing along at 1,520 cfs yesterday afternoon. On Sunday, that river peaked at more than 2,200 cfs, 800 cfs larger than just two days prior.

Boaters have a love/hate relationship with the high runoff; it makes for stellar conditions but the enormous flows mean an abbreviated season. Faster runoffs also spell trouble for the watertables — too much water leaves too fast — and fire season.

From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Kevin Houck):

As many of you are aware, snowmelt flooding has been ongoing throughout Colorado for the past several days in response to warm temperatures and rapid snowmelt. For most areas, but not all, high runoff as a function of elevated temperatures has abated for the time being. However, high base flows still exist in many areas with some streams still reporting at or above flood stage.

A number of reliable collaborators and weather forecasters have indicated that a Pacific storm stalling over portions of the state could produce the next credible flooding threat. For the next two or three days, widespread areas of rainfall should develop in the state, especially in the South Platte River basin and to some extent the Arkansas River basin. Although the intensity of this rain is not anticipated to be heavy over large areas, smaller pockets of high intensity rainfall and severe weather could occur. Although this rainfall may create its own flooding problems, CWCB staff’s primary concern is for widespread, long-duration rainfall to add runoff to the already high streamflows caused by snowmelt. This is a very real possibility this weekend. The National Weather Service has already issued a flood advisory for portions of the South Platte basin as of this morning.

The good news is that temperatures have dropped noticeably, especially into this weekend, so the rate of snowmelt runoff has slowed for now. However, temperatures will be cold enough that additional snowfall could fall in the mountains, especially above 9,500 feet. This could lead to another round of high runoff when temperatures begin to increase again next week.

All persons with interests near rivers that are currently running high should carefully monitor stream levels this weekend. It is possible that stream levels could be higher this weekend than already observed, although this is not a certainty. The rain itself could create localized problems in eastern Colorado as well.

The CWCB creates a daily Flood Threat Bulletin (FTB), issued each morning around 11AM. This bulletin can be accessed at:

The FTB outlines and graphically displays the anticipated flood threat each day on a county-by-county basis. Long-range outlooks are also issued on Monday and Friday mornings, and it is suggested that interested persons pay close attention to today’s outlook.

It is also suggested that interested persons monitor the advisory and warning products issued by the National Weather Service at:

CWCB staff will be monitoring the situation carefully. Please contact Kevin Houck by email at or by phone at 303-866-3441 to report any known flooding problems or damages.

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