Runoff news: Clear Creek has finally jumped way above the median value for the date — 733 cfs at the Golden gage

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for a screenshot of the Clear Creek at Golden gage.

From Wikipedia:

Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle.

From (Lori Obert):

The low water [level at Green Mountain Reservoir] can in part be blamed on the high snowpack. Water levels were dropped at one point more than 60 feet to make room for all the runoff that’s expected to fill the reservoir in hopes that areas downstream would not be flooded.”

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Trevor Hughes):

As of late Saturday afternoon, the following underpasses along the Poudre Trail were closed due to flooding: Overland Trail Underpass, College Avenue Underpass and Prospect Avenue Underpass. Water is rising at the underpasses at Mulberry Street and Timberline Avenue. The city of Fort Collins said on its website,, on Saturday afternoon that it expected to close those locations within 24 hours. City officials also said they anticipate more closures of the Poudre Trail next week when flood waters may overtop the trails in low-lying areas next to the Poudre River.

Flows on the Poudre River can be tracked using various websites, including:

» Click on the map for the South Platte Basin and a list of gauge stations will appear. Scroll to Cache la Poudre River stations, and click on those that are of interest, such as “canyon mouth near Fort Collins” to get real-time data on river activity.

» Click on the map of the United States and Colorado to pull up specific gauges, such as the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins.

» warningsystem: Provides access to the city’s flood warning system and real-time measurements on local stream gauges.

From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):

Gore Creek, the Eagle River, the Colorado and the Roaring Fork are all beyond bank-full and blown out. At 1,400 cubic feet per second (cfs), even the dam-controlled Blue River on the other side of Vail Pass is flowing well above average and is expected to rise…

“This weekend, we expect the highest water so far this year,” Kevin Houck, a flood engineer with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said Friday. “There may be a cooler period (this) week, but then it’s very likely the water will go back up and we may see a second peak that’s higher than the first.” State flood engineers are predicting that streams and rivers in northern Colorado could see the highest water levels in 30 years, with the runoff season extending into early July. Flood warnings have already been posted for several streams and rivers in the northwest region, and forecasters are warning that seasonably high temperatures this week will cause flows to ramp up on both sides of the Continental Divide. Houck said that hydrologists predict Colorado River flows will peak at about 50,000 cubic feet per second, about 50 percent higher than last year. Conditions are not likely to be as extreme in the southern part of the state, where snowpack is near or slightly above average in the Arkansas, San Juan and Dolores basins and right at average in the Rio Grande drainage.

To the north, though, snowpack in the South Platte basin was at a remarkable 323 percent of average going into the weekend. Snowpack in the Gunnison, Yampa and Colorado River basins ranged between 230 percent and 284 percent of average. Statewide, the snowpack was pushing 250 percent of what’s typical for this weekend.

Here’s something cool, the high water update from Steamboat Today. Here’s a excerpt:

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a flood warning for the Elk River at Routt County Road 42 on Friday. “Significant rises have occurred along the Elk River near Routt County Road 42 as a result of recent warm weather increasing snow melt over the higher mountains,” the warning states. “This river will continue to rise through this weekend and into early next week as warm temperatures continue to melt off the higher snowpack.” The river peaked early Friday at 7.88 feet at a measuring station near Milner…

The Yampa River reached nearly 4,000 cubic feet per second Thursday night, and the water level continues to rise. The river where it crosses under the Fifth Street Bridge in downtown Steamboat reached a maximum depth of 6.42 feet Thursday night. Flood stage at that location is 7.5 feet. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction had lowered its forecast for how high the river will rise early next week. Hydrologists now expect the river to rise to crest at 8 feet early Tuesday and begin to recede thereafter.

And here’s the river watch from Windsor Now. Here’s an excerpt:

Warm weather and a deep snowpack have more than doubled the flow on the Poudre River in the past week. Water is already covering parts of the Poudre River trail west of 59th Avenue, and officials urged trail users to be cautious. A river flow of between 3,500-4,500 cubic feet per second in Greeley could cause flooding in some areas. Last year’s flooding topped out at 4,770 cfs.

From the Associated Press via the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

High waters have prompted the closure of parts of Blue River in Summit County. Silverthorne authorities closed part of the river indefinitely for recreational watercraft near Silverthorne. The closure does not affect kayakers, but police strongly urged them to avoid bridges because of possible low clearance.

From the Associated Press via The Denver Post:

State water managers say flooding in Denver from the state’s record snowmelt is unlikely. The Colorado Water Conservation Board says floods in the metro area historically are triggered by rainstorms and flash flood events, but not snowmelt. The conservation board is warning communities at risk to begin preparing for high water that’s expected as the snowpack melts with warmer temperatures returning this weekend.

From the Grand Forks Herald (Kevin Bonham):

Record amounts of water already are flowing down the Missouri River, forcing people in cities along its banks to build dikes and evacuate homes and businesses for the first time in more than a half century, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week opened floodgates on the six dams for an extended period that could last for weeks or even months.

The Corps has been releasing water throughout the winter in order to deal with a snowpack in the upper basin that was 140 percent of normal, according to Kevin Wingert, public affairs specialist with the Corps’ Omaha District.

“We were passing water from the previous flood season, from the last summer. We managed to move through most of those flood waters,” he said. “What became an aberration was the amount of rain that fell in the month of May. Starting May 1, we were still in a good position to do what we normally do to move water through the normal system.”

May was the second wettest May for northern Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota since 1889, when record-keeping began.

Inflows into the Missouri in the Garrison Dam section totaled 4.4 million acre feet in May, topping the previous record of 2.8 million, set in 1978.

In Sioux City, Iowa, the inflow hit 10.5 million acre feet, compared with the previous May record of 7.2 million.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir are on the rise

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We’re seeing water levels at Horsetooth and Carter reservoirs continue to rise.

Currently, Carter Lake is at an elevation of about 5757 which I think qualifies as “pretty darn near full.” It is two vertical feet from capacity and still rising. With this rate of fill, we are planning on running the pump to Carter through the weekend, but it will likely go off sometime next week. Once the pump to Carter goes off, more water will flow into Horsetooth. Right now, Horsetooth is at an elevation of 5410–that’s 20 feet from full, but only 4 feet from its average start of season water elevation of 5414. As the reservoir is still rising, it will likely pass the 5414 marker. We will see what the weather brings![…]

For more information, there is a Carter and Horsetooth webpage with a general update on both reservoirs. I also have a general webpage for the Eastern Colorado Area Office where I’m tracking run-off on both our water diversion and delivery projects.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

The warm weather seems to be sticking around, but maybe not quite as hot as was predicted. Still, last night [June 2] we saw inflows from run-off pick up into Lake Estes and the water level bumped up accordingly.

It is likely we’ll see higher inflows coming into Lake Estes again late tonight [June 3]. As a result, we are planning to bump up releases from Olympus Dam on Lake Estes to the Lower Big Thompson River by about 200 cfs. So, some time after midnight, there should be about 650 cfs in the river through the canyon.

For those who live below the confluence of the North Fork with the Big T at Drake, flows over night could bump up higher than the 650 we are putting into the river. I do not know what the North Fork might contribute, but if you are watching the river by your property and you live downstream of Drake, please remember to include the North Fork’s contributions into your calculations.

More Colorado-Big Thompson coverage here.