Summit County sheriff urges safety on local rivers and waterways |

Summit County sheriff urges safety on local rivers and waterways

The Blue River and local waterways are reaching peak levels thanks to rapid snowmelt. The sheriff's office urges all outdoor lovers to use caution near rivers, culverts, ditches and creekside campsites.
Summit Daily file photo |

The rivers in and around Summit County are deceptively dangerous this time of year.

Over the past week, warm temperatures have led to rapid snowmelt across Summit and throughout the Colorado Rockies. The Blue River is more or less raging at the moment: As of June 15, flows below Dillon Dam were at 1,590 cubic feet per second, nearly 400 cf/s higher than just three days prior and only 300 cf/s off from the all-time record of 1,870 cf/s in 1984. Portions of the upper Blue along Highway 9 in Breckenridge are fully-flooded, which has led to closures at underpasses on the recreation path.

With local rivers flowing at peak levels, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents and visitors to be mindful of the rising water levels throughout the county, especially in and around Summit County waterways, like the upper and lower Blue River and the Snake River. 

When participating in outdoor activities on or near the water this spring, the sheriff’s office urges people to be cautious of elevated flows in rivers causing fast currents. It is especially dangerous for children and pets playing along the shore of fast-moving water, as they can easily slip on wet, muddy banks and be swept away by fast-flowing water.

The sheriff’s office doesn’t expect extreme flooding in Summit, but officials are still encouraging kayakers, SUPers, rafters, anglers and anyone else who recreates near local rivers to be wary of flooding.

Safety first

If flooding occurs, get to higher ground immediately. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches and washes.

Avoid flooded areas or other areas with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream — six inches of fast-flowing water is all it takes to sweep you off your feet.

Don’t allow children or pets to play near high water or around storm drains, culverts or ditches. 

Flooded roads can have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. It only takes water that’s two feet deep to carry off most automobiles.

Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist, and be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Monitor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration weather radio or local media for vital weather-related information.

To learn more about the impacts of high water and what you can do to prepare for the spring runoff, download the high water preparedness brochure from the county website at

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