MSU Denver experts: ‘Unusual’ conditions have led to dangerously high water levels

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DENVER — A new study from the Metropolitan State University of Denver says unusual conditions have led to dangerous water levels across Colorado.

In fact, according to hydrologists at Metro State who are following the snowpack and runoff, Coloradans can retire the phrase, “We need the moisture,” at least for now.

Since the beginning of June, at least 11 people have died on Colorado waterways and some are still missing. Experts say the deaths are in part due to the dangerous water conditions seen all over the state.

“This is unusual,” said Dr. Tom Bellinger, a hydrologist and professor at Metro State. “We have needed the moisture for quite some time. However, this year is almost like a good catch-up year, ending a drought.”

Bellinger says while the drought is gone for now, water is flowing fast and be dangerous at times.

“Partly as a result of the winter and the rainy spring that we have,” Bellinger said. “River flows are higher, so you’re going to be floating down a little quicker.”

“If you’re on a smaller stream with rocks and you’re kayaking, you’re going to have to be much more careful,” he added.

Some cities have taken notice and have even closed parts of their waterways as a safety precaution.

“I’m not really surprised that we’ve had some injuries and deaths in the water,” Bellinger said.

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