June 1, 2011
Soaring temperatures will mean rising floodwaters along northwest Colorado's rivers and streams this week, several agencies warned Tuesday.
A flood advisory is in effect until 9:30 Wednesday night for much of the state northwest of Georgetown, as a snowpack two to three times its normal depth for this time of year faces its first sustained dose of spring weather.
Daily high temperatures in the mid-70s are forecast into next week across the northern mountains, and nighttime highs are expected to stay above freezing.
"As warmer temperatures take hold . . . river flows will continue to increase heading into the weekend, with the potential for some rivers to reach well above flood stage," the National Weather Service's hydrological report said Tuesday afternoon.
Numerous waterways could flood by the weekend, including the Colorado, Yampa, Gunnison, Crystal, Elk, Little Snake and Illinois rivers, as well as Fortification, Troublesome, Muddy and Willow creeks.
Several were already at or above their banks Tuesday, with more snowmelt on its way, the Weather Service said.
The Colorado River near Kremmling was at 348 percent of its seasonal flow Tuesday, with a depth of more than 14 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Flood stage is 15 feet.
Front Range and foothills rivers and streams were still running at or below normal Tuesday, including Clear Creek, which was at 76 percent of normal flow at just over 5 feet deep near Golden. Flood stage is 10 feet.
In Steamboat Springs, homes and businesses along the Yampa River were seeing troublesome evidence Tuesday, as several driveways off U.S. 40 were already under a foot of water.
"This surprises me," Walton Pond Apartments owner Curt Weiss told the Steamboat Pilot newspaper. "We haven't had water get in over here before."
The Steamboat Hotel along the Yampa River had water nearing its door Tuesday.
"The scary thing is we're not even close to peak runoff," owner Jay Wetzler told the Pilot. "We're at least two weeks away."
Routt County emergency manager Bob Struble said high water could continue into July, well beyond the normal mid-June peak.
"How high is it going to get? I don't know," he told the Pilot. "I don't think anybody knows. We'll find out this week."