FLOOD POTENTIAL IN THE UPPER COLORADO RIVER BASIN

 

The following are generalized discussions of the flood potential due to snowmelt in the Upper Colorado River drainage as of May 1, 1997. Discussions are segregated by state. It is important to understand that the potential for flooding may increase dramatically if snowmelt accelerates rapidly due to above normal temperatures or if significant rain events occur.

 

COLORADO: The potential for flooding from snowmelt in western Colorado is high on the lower Yampa River in the vicinity of Deerlodge Park and above normal elsewhere. Much above average precipitation in April and a much above average snowpack as of May 1 has heightened flooding concerns. Total runoff volumes from snowmelt are expected to be much above average in many areas. Future temperatures will greatly affect the runoff scenario. The flood stage on the Yampa River near Deerlodge Park is expected to be exceeded during this runoff season.

WYOMING: The snowmelt flood potential for the Wyoming portion of the basin is higher than normal at this time. The snowpack over this basin ranges from near to much above average with streamflow volumes expected to be near to much above average. Peak flows are also expected to be near to above average, with some over-bank flow possible. However, at this time no forecast points are currently expected to exceed flood stage.

UTAH: At this time, the snowmelt flood potential over the Utah portion of the basin is high on the Green River in the vicinity of Jensen, due mainly to high flows expected out of the Yampa River system. Elsewhere the snowmelt flood potential is higher than normal. Near to much above average snowpack over most of the basin will lead to high flows on many of the streams in Eastern Utah with over-bank flows possible in some areas. Particular areas of concern could include Ashley Creek and Dry Fork draining out of the Uintas and portions of the Strawberry and Duchesne River systems. The flood stage on the Green River near Jensen is expected to be exceeded during this runoff season.

NEW MEXICO: The snowmelt flood potential over the New Mexico portion of the basin at this time is higher than normal. Snowpack for locations upstream of the Four Corners area is much above average. Volume forecasts for southwest Colorado streams draining into New Mexico are above to much above average. However, no forecast points are projected to exceed flood stage due solely to snowmelt during the spring and summer season of 1997.