High Snowpack Levels Creating Potential for Spring Flooding

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

With one of the snowiest Decembers on record and more snow predicted in the coming weeks, the snowpack on top of the mountains is adding up -- creating the potential for flooding this Spring.

As winter storms continue to unload on the mountains of Western Colorado, the snowpack -- or snow that feeds into rivers, lakes, and streams -- is piling up.

"In all the basins, the snowpack is up over a hundred percent to over a hundred and twenty–five percent in some places," said Senior Forecaster Chris Cuoco of the National Weather Service.

Cuoco says for now, numbers like that are a welcomed sign.

"Building up the snowpack is a good thing because that will provide the entire southwest with the water they need for the rest of the year," said Cuoco.

But weather experts say the real test to see if it remains a good thing, is to take a look at how much snow is left on top of the mountains come Spring as temperatures rise.

"As happened last spring, when the snowpack was well above one hundred percent heading into late March and April there was a flooding problem," said Cuoco. "We dealt with some flooding in several of the streams and river basins."

Last May, the rapidly melting snow caused Plateau Creek and the Colorado River to rise several feet and pushed them to the brink of flood stage. Cuoco says this winter's numbers are right on par with last winter's.

"That is a concern, but it's a little too early to evaluate anything like that right now," said Cuoco.

While it's still to early to tell whether flooding in the Valley could be a reality this year, experts say in the short term we can expect to see more snow fall on the mountains.

"We have more storms coming in now which would add to the snowpack," said Cuoco.

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