Runoff/snowpack news

Here’s a report about the early runoff flows from Nick Coltrain writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Click through for the streamflow charts. Here’s an excerpt:

State climatologist Nolan Doesken noted that the Poudre, like the Big Thompson, is a highly managed river, with lots of intakes, reservoirs and other diversions.

Zach Allen, a spokesperson for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said peak runoff usually hits in late May or early June. The average peak runoff is 2,928 cfs for the Poudre, a number topped every day between May 20 and 27 this year.

Simpson called May so far an “anomaly” for river flows. Coming out of a few drought years, the river’s flow peaked at 12 times its five-year low for that same time period.

“It’s just a wild river this May,” Simpson said. “Nobody would have guessed to see this kind of water this early.”

Doesken said Mother Nature can still decide what it wants to do with the river. Snowpack remains high, but it was higher in 2011.

“There was a lot of concern that we would have high peak flows and substantial flooding,” Doesken said. “What we had instead was this beautifully well-behaved and consistent snow melt.”

From CBS Denver (Chris Spears):

On Tuesday, May 27, the latest SNOTEL data showed there was still 15 inches of water left in the snowpack that remained in the South Platte basin…

On Thursday, May 29, SNOWTEL data showed about 13 inches of water still remains…

The good news is that we saw two inches melt in just two days!

The bad news is that caused a tremendous change in areas rivers, creeks and streams, and there is still a lot of water to melt and come down.

From Steamboat Today:

About 100 households in the Tree Haus neighborhood just outside the southern boundary of Steamboat Springs have been advised by state health officials to boil their drinking water as the snowmelt coursing down the Yampa River has mingled with the domestic water provided by the Tree Haus Metro District.

Routt County Director of Health and Environment Mike Zopf confirmed Friday morning that the Colorado Department of Health and Environment issued the warning because the turbidity of the water exceeded allowable levels.

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Crystal dam spilling May 2009
Crystal dam spilling May 2009

Releases from the Aspinall Unit have been increasing over the last week. Crystal Reservoir began spilling yesterday and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are approaching 5,000 cfs today.

Releases are scheduled to increase again tomorrow by 1,100 cfs. The increase on Sunday has been postponed due to expected high water in the Colorado River through Grand Junction. Our office will reconvene on Monday morning to check on current and projected flows on the Gunnison and Colorado rivers.

If the latest release schedule continues at that time, the highest releases/flows are expected to begin on Wednesday, June 4th. At this time flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon could be in excess of 10,000 cfs. However, releases from the Aspinall Unit may be reduced or may not reach these levels depending on the potential for flooding in the Delta or Grand Junction areas.

Leave a Reply