Tue June 14, 2011

So Far, Serious Flooding Averted in Northern Colorado

Larimer County officials are optimistic that spring runoff from this year’s record snow in parts of the state won’t turn into serious flooding for northern Colorado.

So far the snowpack has been melting at a slow, measured pace, leading to only moderate swelling of the Big Thompson and Poudre Rivers. This has been one of the biggest snow years in a long while - and that had emergency officials bracing for the worst, readying sandbags and other precautions.

“We didn’t really have a handle on how this snowpack was going to behave,” says Erik Nilsson, Larimer County’s Emergency Manager. “Each day, over the past week or two, we’ve seen that it isn’t going to be coming down like we thought – all at once.”

Given the steady pace of the melting, Nilsson says it’s unlikely the Poudre or Big Thompson Rivers will flood.   He says the Poudre crested last week at about 3400 cubic feet per second.  That’s well below last week’s record-setting rate of more than 8000 cubic feet per second for the Elk River in Moffat County.  

Officials say tributaries of the Colorado River in Garfield County have inflicted a significant amount of the flood damage there, including to some county roads.