Snowpack news: Officials are wary of this spring’s runoff #COflood

Statewide Snow Water Equivalent as a percent of normal March 3, 2014
Statewide Snow Water Equivalent as a percent of normal March 3, 2014

From the Estes Park Trail-Gazette (David Persons):

With above average snow conditions, there is the very real possibility that a couple warm days in the spring could trigger a sudden runoff that could evolve into a flash flood occurrence for a community still recovering from last September’s floods. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by town officials. “We’ve been doing a lot of public outreach to prepare the community for runoff,” said Estes Park Town Administrator Frank Lancaster. “While 2014 may or may not end up being a significant runoff year, our floodplains have changed, and so runoff will certainly have different effects this year…

Will Birchfield, the town’s floodplain manager, is another official who is keenly aware of what the spring runoff could mean. He attended the 2013 Colorado Flood Forum hosted by the Colorado Association of Stormwater and Floodplain Managers and Colorado State University on Feb. 27. This forum included presentations by experts and discussions among public agencies of the 2013 flood and preparation for spring runoff.

“At this time, it’s too early to predict what runoff will bring, so we will constantly monitor, reevaluate conditions, and keep the community informed,” Birchfield said. “If current weather patterns persist, it’s possible we could see an event equal to at least a 25-year event.

“Variables include how much snowfall comes in March and April, how quickly temperatures rise in the spring, how much rain falls during snow melt, and how the new floodplains in the Estes Valley handle the melt.”

From The Greeley Tribune:

Good news for local farmers, ranchers and other water users: Greeley is receiving about 50 percent more than its normal precipitation so far in 2014, according to numbers provided by the Colorado Climate Center.

During January and February, Greeley saw 18.5 inches of snow — 7.8 inches above normal — that brought with it 2.48 inches of precipitation, surpassing the 1.6 inches of precipitation the city typically receives over the course of those two months.

It’s been colder than normal as well so far in 2014. The mean temperature was 29.6 degrees through the first two months of the year — 3.6 degrees below normal.

For February alone, snowfall amounted to 4.7 inches (0.3 inches above the normal), precipitation was 0.96 inches (0.56 inches above normal), and the mean temperature was 27.2 degrees (7.8 degrees below normal).

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