With temperatures rising above 90 degrees this week, weather experts say the heavy snow pack on top of the Grand Mesa is quickly making its way down to the Grand Valley. Several flood advisories have been issued, and that has leaders in Fruita taking extra steps to make sure a Western Slope landmark doesn't get washed away.
"The snow is coming off the mountain very quickly as we've had warm temperatures," said Paul Frisbie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "Especially the last two days."
Weather experts say that's why Grand Valley residents may have recently noticed a big change in the Colorado River.
"The Colorado River is running high," said Frisbie. "It's basically at bank fall and there will be some low land flooding."
The National Weather Service says it's expecting the river to rise to eleven and a half feet by the end of the week. It's news that has caught the attention of several Fruita leaders, who say even minor flooding could pose serious problems for the Old Fruita Bridge.
"This bridge has stood for over a hundred years and we expect it to continue to stand," said Clint Kinney, Fruita City Manager. "But we wanted to be as safe as possible, so we put contingency plans in place."
City leaders say plans are in the works to stabilize the piers of the historical bridge later this fall. Until then, they say flooding is a real concern. They're worried the water could tilt the bridge and carry it down the river -- so much so, they're already preparing for the worst.
"We want to make sure there's no imminent danger, so we've got sensors on the bridge," said Kinney. "So just in case something does happen, we'll have early warning detection."
Officials say they're prepared to replace or repair any part of the bridge should flooding damage occur. They say they also have plans in place to warn the public if it does come down the river. But at the end of the day, they say they hope their careful planning is for naught.
"This is a high water year," said Kinney. "It's higher than it's been the last several years, so we just wanted to make sure a plan was in place."
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