National Weather Service Predicts Slow Run-Off Season

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

The National Weather Service says the river won't be running nearly as high this spring as last, even though we've seen a lot of snow and even some today.

As spring time approaches, it's time to start thinking about getting outside and enjoying some river activities. If this year is anything like last, it will be a busy season. "We had high runoff and high temps, people wanted to get out on the river and cool down," says Mesa County Deputy, Tony Marsh. The entire state saw above average snow fall last winter. Snowfall that feeds the Colorado river as it runs through the Grand Valley. "In the upper Colorado river basin we were looking at snow packs of about 120% of normal," says Hydrologist, Bryan Lawrence. A quick spring warm up along with above average rain fall rapidly melted the snowpack, causing the river to run near bank full all the way through summer.

This year, it'll be a different story. "This year, we're quite a bit behind," says Lawrence. Above average temperatures across the state along with below average snowfall, has the National Weather Service predicting a quieter spring. "Right now we are looking at 75 to 77 percent of normal," says Lawrence. But officials say that a low river can still be a dangerous river. "The problem is when people look at the river they see that it is low and think it's not problem," says Marsh. They urge people to keep their guard up, a low river can damage flotation devices, leaving you stranded. High exposed banks can leave you with no way out.

Not all rivers in Colorado will be low. "We're looking at normal snowpack in the San Juans and expecting normal runoff," says Lawrence. Even though this current storm will hit the San Juans pretty hard, dumping up to three more feet of snow, it won't stop there. "It's a fairly widespread storm so we'll be seeing some really beneficial snow for the central and northern mountains," says Lawrence. We might even see some inches, here in the Grand Valley.

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