State rivers continue to swell as residents anxiously watch |

State rivers continue to swell as residents anxiously watch

A horse grazes on the high side of a pasture flooded by the swollen Animas River north of Durango, Colo., Tuesday, May 24, 2005. Runoff from mountain snow has rivers and streams thoughout the state at near capacity with low farm and ranch land flooding near Durango. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

DURANGO ” Melting snow rushing off Colorado’s southern mountains Tuesday continued to swell high-running rivers near here, where flooded pastures pushed horses to higher ground and whitewater rapids enticed swarms of kayakers to the Las Animas River.

Jill Peters awoke to ducks swimming across her driveway after wetlands on her ranch filled to the brim, forcing her to wade through muddy, knee-high water outside her house. The Las Animas, which runs along her rural property in the mountain valley north of town, was flowing at the highest she’s seen in decades, flooding nearby pastures and lowlands.

“In the years of the drought, it was just a trickle. But we had huge trees flowing through here the other day,” Peters said, cautiously walking along the soggy riverbank. “It makes you a little anxious, but we live in nature and you learn you can’t control it.”

Rivers and creeks across western Colorado were filled to capacity with icy, fast-moving water as above-average temperatures continued along the western slope of the Rocky Mountains where water was the highest since the mid 1990s, National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Ramey said.

Nearly all of western Colorado remained under flood advisories with peak runoff expected to begin Wednesday and last through the Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re really emphasizing safety during the holiday weekend, because this is a real bad time to be getting into the water in any shape or form if you’re not an expert boater or kayaker,” Ramey said.

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