Valley runoff coming in waves | AspenTimes.com

Valley runoff coming in waves

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Spring runoff might not hit the Roaring Fork Valley in one big flood, but in multiple waves, according to officials with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

And that’s good news for people living in flood- or mudslide-prone areas.

“Through the rest of June, it looks like we are predicting a better chance of above-normal temperatures,” said Chris Cuoco, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service. “But we’re looking at next week being relatively dry.”

Forecasters predict cool evening temperatures at least through the weekend, which would mean runoff will filter into area rivers steadily, instead of as one big flood, Cuoco said.

The long-range forecast calls for above-average temperatures and dry weather from midweek next week, Cuoco said, which would mean a steady increase in runoff.

“Fortunately, the rain side of the equation doesn’t look like it’s going to be there,” Cuoco said.

Snowmelt saturates the ground and can cause mudslides in steep or unstable areas ” such as one that blocked the Frying Pan Road on Wednesday ” but Cuoco said that most major slides and flooding are caused by a combination of warm temperatures and heavy spring showers.

Runoff follows daily ebbs and flows, with the highest river levels reported in the afternoon and early evening, Cuoco said.

A dramatic warm-up or spring storms, however, would be cause for concern, Cuoco said.

Area rivers are rising steadily, according to Jim Pringle, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Roaring Fork River near Aspen (which lists flooding at a level of 5 feet) is currently at 2.9 feet and is expected to reach 3.27 by Friday and 3.72 feet on June 3, according to a press release issued by Pitkin County staff.

The Crystal River, south of Carbondale, also considered to be at flood stage at five feet, is currently at 3.94 feet.

For more information on flood and mudslide dangers, visit the Web at http://www.aspenpitkinemergency.com.


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