#Runoff news: There’s a lot of SWE still to melt out

Durango flood of 1911 river scene. Photo credit Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College.

From The Associated Press via The Pueblo Chieftain:

Forecasters are anywhere from concerned to alarmed about the potential for flooding in Colorado’s high country…

“I wouldn’t say go out and get ready for a massive flood, but getting prepared is a good idea,” NWS meteorologist Natalie Sullivan said Friday. “These levels are definitely something to keep an eye on, but it is not overly alarming.”


Above-normal spring precipitation and below-normal temperatures have allowed snowpacks in the Colorado Rockies to remain high this year, the weather service said.

Another factor that raises concern is that temperatures are forecast to rise to the mid-80s next week in the Denver metro area and into the 90s in southwest Colorado, where authorities in small towns have bigger flooding concerns, NWS meteorologist Dave Barjenbruch told The Denver Post.

With days getting longer and temperatures across Colorado rising to above normal next week, flooding is a real possibility, Barjenbruch said. For example, the temperature in Denver is forecast to reach 84 degrees (28.8 Celsius) on Monday, which is 6 degrees above normal, after three weeks of temperatures well below normal, Barjenbruch said.

“What that is telling us is there is an awful lot of snow in the mountains, especially above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). That will accelerate the snowmelt. We’re going to be melting it off quite fast in the next two weeks,” Barjenbruch said.

There is cause for concern about flooding in mountain towns in the north-central mountains, but real alarm in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, he said.

The trouble is, there isn’t a lot of historical data about how serious the situation is in southern Colorado because usually there isn’t a lot of snow in the San Juans by June, Barjenbruch said. This year, the snowpack in the area is at 728 percent of normal, an alarming level, he said.

With warm temperatures next week, 2 inches (5 centimeters) of water could be melting off the snowpack a day.

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald:

A day after decreasing the outflow from Lake Estes, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Saturday it would more than double the amount of water flowing from the lake into the Big Thompson River on Sunday.

Releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson will increase from 150 to 310 cubic feet per second (cfs) and remain at 310 cfs until further notice, according to a news release.

Larger runoff inflows into Lake Estes prompted the increase.

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