DENVER (KDVR) — Flood concerns are increasing due to rapid snowmelt in northwest Colorado.
Flood watches are in effect through Saturday for parts of Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties. This includes Lower Yampa River Basin, Central Yampa River Basin, Elkhead and Park Mountains, Upper Yampa River Basin, and Flat Tops – including the cities of Rangely, Dinosaur, Craig, Hayden, Meeker, Columbine, Hahns Peak, Toponas, Steamboat Springs, Buford, and Trappers Lake.
The concern is that rapid snowmelt could lead to excessive runoff, which may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Be careful if you are traveling in those areas because creeks and streams may rise out of their banks and flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas, low-water crossings may be flooded. Another concern is that storm drains and ditches may become clogged with debris.
A flood warning is also in effect for portions of the Dolores River from the confluence with the San Miguel River in western Colorado to the confluence with the Colorado River in eastern Utah, including the town of Gateway. Flooding in this area is due to snowmelt leading to heavy runoff alongside increased releases from McPhee Reservoir.
Remember that if you come across a flooded roadway, “Turn around, don`t drown.” It is never safe to cross a flooded road. Instead, it is always a better option to just turn around and take another route.
Even though parts of Colorado are experiencing rapid snowmelt, the state snowpack is still at 132% of normal. As of May 3, northwest Colorado is still at 141% of normal in the Yampa and White river basins. North Platte is at 118% of normal and the Colorado RIver is at 124% of normal.
Flooding concerns are linked to not only the higher-than-normal snowpack, but the reservoir storage. Right now the areas experiencing flooding have a reservoir storage close to 100%. Yampa, White and Little Snake Reservoir Storage is at 97%, and just to the south, the Colorado Headwaters Reservoir Storage is at 101%.