Runoff news: Cache la Poudre flows are dropping, snowmelt flooding risk is dropping as well

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From The Greeley Tribune (Sharon Dunn):

Officials on Tuesday decided the Poudre River reached its peak last week and should ease off from here on — a stark contrast to earlier concerns that the high mountain snowpack would send a torrent of water down the mountain, flooding city streets and riverside trails.

“Unless there’s a rain event up there, it sure looks to me like we’ve peaked and we’re on our way down,” said George Varra, the Poudre River water commissioner. “But there’s still a lot of snow up there. What I’m hearing was that the snow was so hard it’s just taking a lot of warm days to start bringing it down. It was really packed, almost like an ice cube. That’s the main reason why we haven’t had this big river.”

The National Weather Service on Tuesday pulled a flood advisory for the Greeley area that it had previously issued through this afternoon. Water levels in Greeley, which peaked above 8 feet last week, were slowly going back down and expected to reach 7.5 feet by Sunday; 9 feet is considered a flood by National Weather Service standards…

Treste Huse, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, said though there is still about 60 percent of the snowpack left in the Cache La Poudre Basin, the early melt-off was much easier than officials expected. The snowpack is still 109 percent of the seasonal normal, which usually occurs in the latter part of April, Huse said. “It is generally, a lot (left) is above 10,000 feet. Snowpack at lower elevations is gone.”

A second wave, though it could be big, will likely not be as much of a threat, Varra said. Varra said next week, four major irrigation ditches should be running full speed, taking as much as 1,800 cubic feet per second off the Poudre. As of Tuesday morning, the Poudre registered a daily high of 2,670 cfs at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon, down from highs above 3,300 cfs last week.

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