Rivers and creeks continue to rise while mountain showers return

Zack Webster's KKCO First Alert Weather - 5/16
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 12:23 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Flood advisories and flood warnings continue around many of the major rivers across the Western Slope while afternoon showers and a few thunderstorms continue across much of the higher terrain.

Scattered Afternoon Showers and Storms

Satellite and radar will be a bit quieter today and potentially into tomorrow as some slightly drier air filters into the region. We’ll still see some scattered showers and a couple of rumbles of thunder, but coverage of rain will be much lower compared to the past few afternoons. Any rain will also increasingly favor the higher elevations of the region--even more so than the last day or two. Some slightly better rain chances move back in on Wednesday, then more widespread better rain chances start to move back in for Thursday, Friday, and potentially into Saturday across the southern portions of the region.

River Flooding and Potential Impacts

Flood Advisories continue for the Colorado River from beyond the Colorado and Utah state line to Grand Junction, the Gunnison River from Grand Junction to Delta, and Plateau Creek near Cameo.

First Alert Chief Meteorologist Stephen Bowers had a fantastic write-up of the local river flooding situation and potential impacts we could see from the rising rivers and creeks. Here’s that snippet of information from last night in case you missed it, plus some updated observation and forecast numbers from this morning...

The Colorado River near the CO-UT state line is at 11.4 feet on Tuesday morning. It is expected to rise above its 12.5-foot action stage on Thursday morning and rise to near 13.6 feet by Saturday morning.

  • 6 feet: Some lowland and meadow flooding is possible near Fruita.
  • 10 feet: Water will approach sections of I-70 near Fruita.
  • 12 feet: Considerable agricultural flooding is likely between the Redlands and Fruita.
  • 14 feet: Flooding is likely in the Redlands.

The Gunnison River near Grand Junction - just south of town - is already at its action stage where minor flooding starts to occur. It is forecast to increase to nearly 12.5 feet.

  • 7 feet: Water inundates sections of the river walk near Redlands Dam.
  • 8.6 feet: Water reaches the top of the left bank of the west side of the Hwy 141 Bridge, and water begins to fill the gravel quarry upstream from the bridge.
  • 9 feet: Lowland flooding near the Redlands Dam is likely, including some low-lying agricultural land.
  • 10 feet: Considerable agricultural flooding is likely between Whitewater and Orchard Mesa and water flows into the quarry downstream of the Hwy 141 Bridge.
  • 11 feet: Water nears the bottom of the Hwy 141 Bridge and it reaches the base of the bridge near Redlands Dam.
  • 13 feet: Residential flooding begins near Redlands Dam

The Gunnison River at Delta is at 8.41 feet Tuesday morning. It is expected to reach its 9.4-foot action stage by Wednesday morning or afternoon. It will crest at 10.7 feet on Friday afternoon.

  • 8 feet: Minor lowland flooding is likely along the banks of the Gunnison River in the vicinity of Delta.
  • 9.45 feet: Flooding of low-lying agricultural land possible upstream of Delta
  • 10 feet: Water reaches the base of the berms in the Four Seasons River Inn RV Park and Riverwood Mobile Home Park. Water nears the top of the berm separating Confluence Park from the Gunnison River. The right bank across from Confluence Park floods
  • 10.5 feet: the river gauge site is flooded
  • 11 feet: Flooding of low-lying agricultural land begins; portions of Confluence Park near the river are flooded. Some hiking trails near the confluence with the Uncompahgre River are covered by water.

Dolores River near Bedrock is right at its action stage of 9.72 feet, and is expected to remain right around that action state through the remainder of the week and into the weekend. The Hwy 141 Bridge downstream from Bedrock would potentially wind up being shut down. If the dam upstream at McPhee Reservoir has to be opened to increase flow into the river, a sudden spike is likely downstream near Bedrock soon after.

Plateau Creek near Cameo could get high enough by Sunday or Monday for homes near the creek to flood. The forecast brings the river up to 7.7 feet. Homes start flooding at about 8 feet.

Flood Advisories also continue for much of the Yampa River including Dinosaur National Monument and much of Highway 40. Flood Warnings also continue for Elkhead Creek and the Elk River.

Next 24 Hours

While showers and a few thunderstorms could be possible over the higher terrain, mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies continue over most of the valleys with highs in the upper 70s and lower 80s. A quick afternoon shower is possible later this afternoon and into the evening, but not very likely. Skies clear out once again overnight tonight with lows in the upper 40s and lower to middle 50s. Clouds start bubbling up again later Wednesday morning, and we’ll see more scattered showers and storms mostly over the higher elevations Wednesday afternoon with highs in the upper 70s and lower 80s.