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With Colorado's snowpack still high, here's where rivers are nearing flood stage

Posted at 11:06 AM, Jun 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-09 19:04:51-04

DENVER – Colorado's snowpack keeps climbing through the first week of June, with the statewide snowpack at 625% of normal as of this week. That's up from 437% of normal across the state last week.

We know all that snow has been good for drought conditions (there are none in Colorado, currently). But we're still waiting to see how it could affect flood conditions, as snowmelt kicks into high gear over the next few weeks.

Major floods in Colorado generally happen as a result of rainfall, not snowmelt, but state officials were still warning of localized and isolated flooding, which was already happening in some areas of the state last week, according to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

At the moment, an area to keep an eye on is southwest Colorado, where the snowpack levels were extremely high this week in three river basins: 2,014% of normal in the Gunnison; 1,277% in the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan; and 697% through the Upper Rio Grande.

Parts of the Rio Grande National Forest were under a flood warning and a flood watch this weekend. And while the outlook from the National Weather Service on Friday wasn't calling for more than some minor flooding in low-lying areas, accelerated snowmelt was expected to increase river flows and create swift currents.

Below are where rivers have approached minor flood stages, according to the Weather Service's latest observations. That means they're currently at levels deemed to be the "action stage."

The short of it: Only one river – the Rio Grande near Del Norte (see below) – is forecast to hit a flood stage over the next week, and it's expected to be just into the minor flood stage zone.

Rio Grande near Del Norte

Flood stage: 5.5 feet
Latest: 5.49 feet

The National Weather Service forecasts minor flooding in this area, with waters hovering around the 5.5-foot mark over the next several days.

Navajo River new Chromo

Latest: 4.35 feet

No flood stage level is listed for this area of the Navajo River, but the Weather Service forecasts water levels to drop below four feet over the next few days.

San Juan River at Pagosa Springs

Flood stage: 10.5 feet
Latest: 9.65 feet

Forecasts have water levels here reaching 10.31 feet but not entering flood levels this week.

Mancos River near Mancos

Flood stage: 6 feet
Latest: 5.3 feet

Water levels here should stay about where they are now, according to the forecasts.

La Plata River near Hesperus

Latest: 5.1 feet

Another one without a flood stage level listed, but the forecast says waters here should stay about where they are.

Gunnison River near Grand Junction

Flood stage: 13 feet
Latest: 11.56 feet

Water levels could get close to 12 feet, according to the forecast, but they should drop slightly over the week, not approaching flood levels.

Colorado River near State Line

Flood stage: 15 feet
Latest: 12.76 feet

Waters here aren't too close to a flood stage and should dip over the next few days, according to the forecast.

Eagle River at Gypsum

Flood stage: 9 feet
Latest: 8.23 feet

Waters here are forecast to dip over the next few days before rising to around its current levels later in the week. But no flooding expected.