Double trouble? #Colorado primed for flooding between torrential rains, spring snowmelt: Changing climate, changing #water dynamics: “The risk of flooding is out there” — The #Denver Post #runoff

Click the link to read the article on The Denver Post website (Bruce Finley). Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado’s mountain snowpack is starting to melt faster, potentially bringing more high water after recent heavy rain turned some of the state’s typically feeble creeks into torrents. Big water rose to levels up to 80 times higher than the norm during rain bursts in Colorado Front Range cities this week, forcing police in Denver to warn creekside campers who lack housing to clear out, and scrambling 30 firefighters in Colorado Springs who recovered the body of a person swept away. More rain was falling Friday — and National Weather Service meteorologists forecast thunderstorms nearly every day next week — saturating soils to the point that water more easily gains momentum…

“Certainly on the Western Slope, all of our gauge readings will increase as the snow melts over the next few weeks,” Forbes said. “We are preparing for high flows on Colorado’s Western Slope over the next two weeks to a month. For flooding risk, the slower it melts the better. That all depends on the weather.”


The mountain snowpack in watersheds feeding the Dolores, Animas, Gunnison, YampaColorado and other rivers in the farthest western parts of Colorado this year measured exceptionally high and promise the biggest runoff. Mountains east of the Continental Divide received relatively less snow. The South Platte watershed had snowpack near average, and snowpack in the Arkansas River Basin lagged, peaking at around 74% of the 1999-2020 norm. Meanwhile, heavy rain — falling in scattered bursts around Colorado since May 9 — has led to unusually high flows in creeks and rivers. On Thursday, the Arkansas River overflowed its banks in southeastern Colorado near La Junta, inundating  U.S. 50. Coal Creek west of metro Denver last week overflowed banks, forcing closures along Colorado 52…

Water levels in the South Platte River northeast of Denver at Fort Morgan, averaging over 36 years around 300 cfs, hit a high flow on May 14 of 5,930 cfs, data show. And on the Arkansas River a mile east of Pueblo, flows exceeded the norm of 900 cfs fivefold at 4,780 cfs on May 12…

On Friday morning as rain fell faintly amid fog and smoke spreading from Canadian forest fires, USGS measuring station data showed the following relatively high flows around Colorado from both rain and melting mountain snow runoff:

  • The Cache La Poudre River at Fort Collins: 1,330 cfs, above the norm of 575 cfs,
  • South Platte River in Commerce City: 1,160 cfs, above the norm of 649 cfs,
  • Sand Creek where it meets the South Platte: 178 cfs, above the norm of 121 cfs,
  • Bear Creek southwest of Denver near Morrison: 289 cfs, above the norm of 121 cfs,
  • Big Thompson River below Moraine Park near Estes Park: 288 cfs, above the norm of 153 cfs,
  • The Colorado River at the Utah borders: 35,400 cfs, above the norm of 14,499 cfs,
  • Colorado River at Windy Gap (near Granby): 1,800 cfs, above the norm of 632 cfs,
  • Colorado River at Kremmling: 2,600 cfs, above the norm of 1,930 cfs,
  • Gunnison River (near Gunnison): 4,060 cfs, above the norm of 1,690 cfs, and
  • Dolores River at Bedrock: 4,120 cfs, above the norm of 820 cfs.

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