Snowpack news: Moderate runoff flooding possible in the Upper Colorado River and North Platte basins

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view the gallery of snowpack conditions from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From (Belen De Leon):

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Boulder have already issued a spring snowmelt flood potential outlook. Many of the places that were affected by the September 2013 floods could see minor flooding this spring.

In the South Platte Basin, the potential for minor flooding this spring is moderate to high. The risk is moderate in the headwaters of the Upper Colorado and North Platte Rivers.

A couple of factors that will contribute to this potential flooding is the snowpack. It’s already above average with near record snowpack at some locations near the divide. The early March percent of average mountain snowpack in the South Platte River basin this year is similar to the high snowpack in 2011…

How fast the snow melts and when, will also be very important. Ideally you want a gradual snowmelt, when the temperatures get in the mid and upper 50s in the mountains and still see freezing temperatures at night which will stall the snowmelt and slow it down. But if we have a very rapid warm up, temperatures in the 60s or warmer and no freezing at night, the snow can melt and runoff very quickly. That would deepen and increase the flow and the potential for minor flooding.

Runoff usually starts in early April. For more flood preparedness tips visit

From (Aisha Morales):

Spring is here and this is when we expect mandatory water restrictions, but that may not be the case this year for folks in Colorado Springs.

“Our resevoirs are about 10% higher than they were last year and so we’ve really benefited form the high mountain snow that we’ve received,” said Steve Berry, spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities.

Even though they don’t anticiptate any restrictions, CSU is recommending “involuntary restrictions” from it’s customers. Berry said, “What that means is we strongly encourage our customers to water no more than three days a week.”

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