Snowpack/runoff news

From CDOT via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed the Glenwood Canyon Bike Path between Shoshone Power Plant and Hanging Lake Rest Area because of high and rising water on the Colorado River.

Crews will monitor the path daily. Cyclists and pedestrians interested in using the path should check the CDOT website for updates.

To ensure pathway safety, CDOT reminds cyclists and pedestrians to obey all warning and closure signs.

To check on the status of the bike path, visit and click on the Travel Alert tab on the home page or the Road Conditions tab. Updates are also available via Twitter @coloradodot or the department’s Facebook page

From email from USGS Water Alert:

Streamflow of 521 cfs exceeds subscriber threshold of 200 at 2014-05-21 04:45:00 MDT
06719505 00060 CLEAR CREEK AT GOLDEN, CO

From CBS Denver (Chris Spears):

The latest precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows Colorado and much of the central Rockies as being wetter-than-normal starting in June.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Michael McLaughlin):

Colorado Department of Transportation crews have been working from daylight to dark in an effort to clear the way for an on-target opening of Independence Pass at 2 p.m. on Thursday, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend crowds.

However, avalanche control work was completed just last week as it was the first time weather permitted crews to get to the areas requiring a control mission, CDOT said Tuesday.

From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):

For a lot of outdoorsmen, fall serves as the most exciting time of year, prime time as crisp autumn air signifies the start of hunting seasons and the voracious appetites of Colorado’s big brown trout trigger predatory instincts.

But as much as I revel in autumn’s splendor, to me little can compare to the rush of the mountains in spring. There’s nothing quite like the reawakening of the senses, rising rivers and anticipation of all that the increasingly lengthy days may bring.

I’ve heard the complaints, mainly from frustrated fishing guides, about rivers being “blown out” and too swift to fish. But while I love to fish as much, or more, than the next guy, I can’t deny that I ultimately possess the heart of a big-water boater.

The favorite part of my own long-ago guide training was the peak runoff floats on the Eagle, Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers, complete with fast-action casting and micromanagement of flies in pools the size of a 10-gallon hat as the rubber raft breezed past hungry fish clinging to undercut banks. Eventually our savvy instructor was forced to reroute the class to the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir for some all-important training on cicada casting techniques. But I still get more excited than most about a local high-water fishing adventure.

Those two peak weeks of training may explain my affinity for the seasonal deluge and attraction to the action of a big runoff. And when it does arrive, we’re offered the options of sitting on the sideline, fine-tuning still-water fishing techniques or picking up a paddle and riding an adrenaline buzz until summer’s low-water fishing season settles in.

Despite the skier-versus-snowboarder type grumbling that has long existed between fishermen and paddlers, I’m not ashamed of my undying love for kayaking. And there’s no other animal, vegetable or mineral on earth that I can profess such affection for after it’s tried so hard to kill me.

It’s a sort of “Dances with Wolves” relationship, where I understand good and well what the whitewater is capable of, yet experience teaches that the river is typically far more playful and forgiving than it’s generally perceived.

Eventually our snow-fed streams always lose their punch, and a surprising number of the skills and daily observations from the river’s-eye view of a kayak are transferred to fishing. When it comes to tuning into the natural world — the ultimate byproduct of fishing — there’s no substitute for time on the water.

Fortunately, most of the bickering seems to be behind us now as multiple use of resources is becoming more recognized as the norm. Boaters are realizing the calming, complementary effects of fishing, and fishermen may have actually learned to put those effects to use. Either that or both sides have found a common enemy in Stand-Up Paddlers (SUP).

That’s a joke, of course, reiterated by the recent announcement from the core fishing company, Redington, that it has named Colorado kayaker-turned-SUP-surfer Ken Hoeve of Gypsum to its new adventure fishing team. In addition to Hoeve’s SUP fishing input, the team consists of a sponsored BMX biker, a pro snowboarder and at least one certified fly-casting instructor with the idea of combining a passion for fishing with adventurous outdoor lifestyles in order to inspire and encourage similar overlap as it introduces the sports to new audiences.

That’s a goal I can get behind in recognition that ultimately we’re all in the same boat. The greatest value of fishing and paddling and other outdoor adventures is in the places they occur, and the more people encouraged to appreciate and respect those resources — for whatever reason — the better.

From the Associated Press (Ben Neary) via the Casper Tribune:

The snowpack in Wyoming continues to rise as recent spring storms add to already sizable mountain accumulations, but officials say reservoirs in the state should have the capacity to hold runoff and prevent major flooding.

The statewide snowpack is 164 percent of average — up from only 57 percent at this time last year, Lee Hackleman, water supply specialist with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service in Casper, said in a statement Monday.

Hackleman said the last time Wyoming saw that level of snowpack at this time of year was in 2011. He said mountain snow is melting slower than normal this year.

Coleman Smith, manager of the Wyoming Area Office for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said this year’s anticipated high runoff will be a welcome relief to water managers.

“We don’t have a lot of concerns about having too much water this year, like we did in 2010 and 2011,” Smith said. “Mainly because our past two water years have been so poor, it’s really depleted the reservoirs. So especially on the North Platte, we’ve got plenty of space for all the water we’re forecasting to come down.”[…]

Renny MacKay, spokesman for Gov. Matt Mead, said Monday that the governor’s office has a plan to support local communities in the event of flooding, which accounts for possible trouble spots and addresses resources for deployment. He said disaster teams include members of the state Office of Homeland Security, National Guard and Department of Corrections.

MacKay said state officials are actively monitoring stream flows, weather forecasts and snowpack to stay ahead of potentially hazardous conditions.

“The snowpack is particularly large this year, creating a high risk of flooding,” MacKay said in a written statement. “Gov. Mead will be aggressive in working for public safety. He believes it is important to get resources on the ground ahead of flooding.”

From KOAA (Andy Koen):

The spring runoff is underway. Water levels in the Arkansas River are rising inviting outdoor enthusiasts to come and play. However, all that swift moving water can be dangerous.
Which is why park rangers and first responders encourage everyone who plans to spend time on the river to wear the appropriate equipment to stay safe.

“We’ve had a nice, wet spring and all that is shaping up for an excellent season on the river here as far as runoff,” said Tom Waters, Program Manager of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, part of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife System.

Once temperatures in the mountains warm above freezing overnight, Waters expects the river level to peak.

“Generally speaking, that second, third and fourth week in June is when we see that highest point of the river as an average over the past years.”[…]

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