Runoff news: Flood risks and drought both attributed to La Niña

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From the Associated Press (Lynn DeBruin/Catherine Tsai) via

Randy Julander, supervisor for the Utah Snow Survey, described more colorfully the disparity between the snow buried, flood endangered parts of the West and those that are parched and burning: “They’re wishing they could get a little of what we have. (The wet weather) just continues to get worse. At this point, all you can do is open the chute, let her buck and hope your butt stays glued to the saddle.” Julander was referring to the coming melt with snowpacks at 200 percent of normal or higher throughout northern Utah. One lower-elevation area in the mountains 50 miles east of Salt Lake City is at 750 percent of normal — with another big storm headed to the region early this week…

In Colorado, the city of Denver and Loveland Ski Area are separated by a mere 75 miles. Yet, the city, east of the Rockies on the high plains, has had only 21.8 inches of snow this season, the second-lowest in history with records dating back to 1882. Loveland, at the top of the Continental Divide, entered the weekend within four inches of breaking its season snowfall record of 572 inches (some 49 feet, set in 1995-1996). “It’s almost a record low for one and a record high for another. You get the idea how extreme that is,” said Kevin Houck, an engineer with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “If I were a water manager, I’d be very happy about this.”

From (Lori Obert):

In Grand County, emergency management officials say Lake Granby is expected to see 25 percent higher inflows this year than in years past. Grand County is offering free sandbags to its residents. Emergency management officials believe this could be the worst year of flooding since 1985.

From the Associated Press via the Aurora Sentinel:

The possibility of flooding is at its highest in recent history, and federal authorities have been reporting “unbelievable” snow levels across the northern mountains, with snowpack northeast of Steamboat Springs measuring more than 200 inches deep, or about 16.6 feet…

Overall snowpack levels for the Yampa/White basins were reported at 165 percent of average. Levels northwest of Fort Collins were measured at 160 inches, or nearly 13.5 feet. In some locations, the snow was almost too deep to measure…

The Rio Grande basin measured in at only 72 percent of average. Dry vegetation, low moisture levels and high winds have sparked several wildfires in the region and national wildfire experts have been predicting a costly season in the area as they continue to struggle with drought conditions. About 180 miles east, Greeley officials have also begun to prepare for high water levels from the spring runoff. They predicted the flow rate of the Poudre River north of the city to peak at 6,000 cubic feet per second — enough to fill four Olympic size swimming pools every minute. The highest flow rate ever recorded for the Poudre river peaked at 6,610 cubic feet per second in 1999 when the river flooded its banks, caused several road closures and threatened homes.

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