Runoff/snowpack news: High water in the Cache la Poudre leads to road closures

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Erin Udell):

Windsor Police Chief John Michaels said officers will be watching the river all week, monitoring its flow and hoping to see it go down a bit.

It’s not uncommon for Weld County roads 13 and 17 to be closed periodically as spring runoff causes the river to come across the roads, Michaels said. But with added rain, other roads — like Colorado Highway 257 — see closures as well. Amid the rising water, sections of WCR 13, WCR 17 and Colorado 257 remained closed Monday.

“(Closing Colorado 257) doesn’t happen every year, but it happened in September and it’s happening now,” Michaels said, adding that CDOT closed the road around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross) via Craig Daily Press:

The Elk River west of Steamboat Springs is under a flood warning, likely continuing through Wednesday when there are preliminary signs the rivers in Northwest Colorado will peak for the season. The National Weather Service posted the warning at 7:37 p.m. Sunday saying that the Elk’s flows could be expected to rebound from the weekend when cool, cloudy weather kept the river below flood stage. The Elk was expected to go back above flood stage Monday night into Tuesday morning for the second time this season.

The Yampa River in Steamboat Springs is expected to follow a similar trend but will remain well below flood stage…

The Weather Service said the river still could go higher in the next few days. It was predicting the Elk could reach nearly 7.8 feet early Wednesday morning with “additional rises possible thereafter. At 7.9 feet elevation, backwater flooding is possible due to any debris blocking culverts under U.S. Highway 40 at the East Fork of the Elk.”[…]

A tentative projection by the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, suggests both the Yampa and the Elk will reach their final peaks of the season later this week, possibly Wednesday night for the Elk and Thursday night for the Yampa in Steamboat. Beyond Thursday, projections show both rivers gradually falling below bank-full.

The Yampa could fall to 3,200 cubic feet per second at Fifth Street by June 9 or 10. It was flowing at 4,770 cfs at Fifth Street at midnight Sunday and well above 5,000 cfs eight blocks downstream below Soda Creek…

Walton Creek was running almost a foot deep Monday morning on a section of concrete public trail that links Chinook Lane to the vicinity of Whistler Park with the help of two pedestrian bridges over the creek. The water rose to within about 20 feet of several single-family homes between Meadowood Court and Meadowood Lane.

From The Greeley Tribune:

Greeley officials have issued a second voluntary evacuation notice.

The boundaries are 5th Street on the north (includes addresses on both sides of the street), 7th Street on the south (includes addresses on both sides of the street), 6th Avenue on the west (includes addresses on both sides of the street), and the Poudre River on the east.

Greeley Public Works Director Joel Hemesath said reports are coming in that the water is recedeing in west Greeley. It should be several hours before east Greeley sees anything similar, Hemesath said.

From CBS Denver:

A breach along the Cache la Poudre River sent rushing flood waters into Greeley on Monday and prompted voluntary evacuations into the evening. Officials don’t consider the flooding to be life-threatening and said they expect the water in Greeley to recede Monday evening. Two homes and a contractor supply business near 5th Street suffered some of the worst damage.

From the Chaffee County Times (Maisie Ramsay):

The closure of a 2-mile section of the Arkansas River south of Buena Vista does not apply to all users, Colorado Parks and Wildlife clarified Monday. CPW and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area announced May 30 that a stretch of river near the Silver Bullet rapid had been closed because of safety concerns. On June 2, CPW explained that the closure did not apply to whitewater canoes or kayaks under Colorado law. However, the closure does apply to individual rafters and rafting outfitters, CPW public information officer Abbie Walls said. Walls noted that regardless of the legalities involved, paddlers are strongly advised against boating that section of the Arkansas River.

“We still are highly recommending people avoid that area,” Walls said.

A reconstruction project at the Silver Bullet rapid completed last winter is resulting in problematic hydraulics that can cause boats to capsize, AHRA park manager Rob White said.

“For whatever reason, it’s causing a massive recirculating wave that’s tending to hold boats and potentially cause a flip,” White said.

White said reopening the river would depend largely upon receding water flows.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the Arkansas River was running at nearly 3,600 cfs at the gage below Granite as of Monday afternoon.

High water advisories are in effect for the Pine Creek Rapid, the Numbers and the Royal Gorge.

The advisories do not bar boaters, but it is standard practice for commercial outfitters to stop running river sections with high water advisories in place, Arkansas River Outfitters Association president Mike Kissack said.

Meanwhile, outfitters report that other sections of the Arkansas River are prime for rafting at high water levels, especially Browns Canyon and Big Horn Sheep Canyon.

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