#Runoff news

The Cascades, on the Roaring Fork River June 16, 2016. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Jason Auslander):

A spate of warm weather predicted for the next several days is likely to prompt high flows for this time of year in the Roaring Fork River and other area waterways, forecasters and river watchers said this week.

That’s because the snowpack in the high country remains huge for this time of year, said Valerie MacDonald, Pitkin County’s emergency manager.

“It’s mind-blowing,” she said Thursday. “It still looks like winter in a lot of places.”

[…]

On Thursday, the Roaring Fork River at Stillwater Bridge east of Aspen was running at about 400 cubic feet per second, said April Long, Clean River Program manager for the city of Aspen. The river is expected to rise to between 600 and 650 cfs in the next three days or so and remain at about that level for the next week, according to predictions by the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.

And while that is roughly the river’s historic level at about this time of year, generally the rivers are decreasing in flow now rather than rising, which is what’s happening, according to Long and historical data on the CBRFC website…

The river peaked above Aspen on June 21 about 900 cfs, [Greg Smith] said.

Arkansas River headwaters. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From KOAA.com (Caiti Blase):

High and powerful waters in the Arkansas River have now caused a partial breach in a Canon City levee and a section of the riverwalk was forced to close…

The impacted section is about 100 feet and city leaders say that while the ground underneath has been stabilized it’s only a band-aid fix and that part of the trail has collapsed…

Kyle Horne, executive director of the Canon City Area Recreation and Park District, said, “We started seeing collapsing trail and other things, and we knew that we were going to have problems. We also saw an increase in groundwater in the parking lot in the low area adjacent to the levee.”

With the river flowing at a powerful 5,000 cubic feet per second for the last few weeks, Horne said, “It then gets into areas it normally doesn’t make it into and it starts chewing away at banks.”

Eventually, causing a slight breach in the levee and part of the trail to collapse.

Fryingpan River downstream of Ruedi Reservoir. Photo credit Greg Hobbs

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reduced releases from Ruedi Reservoir earlier this week but hydrologist Tim Miller acknowledged it’s a crapshoot right now whether adjustments will be required as the ample high-elevation snowpack melts out.

Ruedi was releasing in excess of 600 cubic feet per second as part of the Coordinated Reservoirs Operations program for the benefit of four endangered fish. The flows boosted the level of the Colorado River in habitat for humpback chub, razorback sucker, bonytail club and the Colorado pikeminnow upstream of Grand Junction.

Miller said about 5,000 acre-feet of water from Ruedi was released for the endangered fish program. Once the program was over, he dialed the releases back to about 350 cfs to try to ensure the reservoir fills.

The inflow to Ruedi from the upper Fryingpan River dipped to 600 cfs on Tuesday and was at 591 cfs on Thursday. That was about half of the June 22 peak of 1,300 cfs.

The federal River Forecast Center envisioned inflow rising again to 800 cfs and then gradually receding…

The big unknown is how much snowpack remains at high elevations and how it will melt out. Miller said snow telemetry sites in the Upper Fryingpan Valley have melted out. However, those automated sites are at lower elevations. There is still significant snow in higher basins. The warm weather this week is eating into the snowpack. If the inflow to the reservoir spikes again, releases also will increase.

The Rio Grande flowing through the Colorado town of Del Norte. Photo credit: USBR

From The Denver Post (Sam Tabachnik):

The Mineral County Sheriff’s Office reported the [Rio Grande River] will remain closed [as of June 28, 2019] to all boating because of turbulent water and the ongoing search [for a missing boater]…

Thursday was the first day the river was open to boaters, Rice said. The waterway had previously been closed off due to unsafe conditions. Still, officials advised only experienced boaters should take to the water Thursday, Rice said, and people were urged to use extra caution.

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