Fast and furious: Colorado rivers running high |

Fast and furious: Colorado rivers running high

Published: Dale Shrull Post Independent file

Most of Colorado’s rivers Sunday were flowing fast, deep and dangerously – some at near record flows for the date – as warm temperatures quickened the pace of the snowmelt.

Rivers were running at more than twice their historic mean, and the Eagle River below Gypsum and the Arkansas River near Parkdale were nearing records.

Divers were looking for the body of an Indiana man who was swept from an inner tube in the Cache La Poudre River in Larimer County on Sunday afternoon.

Flows on the Poudre were nearly three times faster than normal for the date.

“I’m afraid we may not have reached the high-flow period yet,” said Heidi Koontz, spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado “Typically, the high-flow period comes in the middle of June.”

A USGS report published last week in the Journal of Climate indicated snowmelts in Colorado are occurring two to three weeks earlier than they were in the late 1970s because of climate trends.

Rivers are being fed by the rapid melt-off, which will continue with warm weather this week. Temperatures are expected to climb into the mid- or upper 70s from Durango to Steamboat Springs today.

In southern Colorado, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning Sunday afternoon for low-lying areas in the Canon City area, as the Arkansas River and tributaries became gorged with runoff.

The city of Boulder issued a bulletin Sunday morning urging caution, with Barker Reservoir by Nederland expected to spill heavily into Boulder Creek during the next few days.

Boulder Creek was flowing at 120 cubic feet per second Sunday, but as the spill begins, flows could spike as high as 420.

“A flow of 300 to 400 cfs is considered dangerous for swimming and wading,” the city warned in its bulletin.

“Parents are encouraged to keep their children from swimming, wading or playing near the water’s edge.”

Rafting company operators said Sunday the high rivers were attracting a large number of whitewater enthusiasts.


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