Rain stays in the mountains today, could find some valleys tomorrow

Zack Webster's KKCO First Alert Weather - 5/17
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 11:49 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Scattered showers and a few thunderstorms are once again expected over the higher terrain of the Western Slope through the afternoon. The valleys should stay dry today, but an increase in those afternoon rain chances could be on the uptick to close out the week.

Afternoon Showers and Storms

As mentioned above, showers and a few thunderstorms will once again be scattered about the higher elevations of the Western Slope this afternoon while the valleys stay mostly dry and warm with partly to mostly cloudy skies. Some better moisture starts moving into the region starting on Thursday, and that means a much wider coverage of those afternoon showers and storms. That higher coverage of rain means a better chance we could see some of those rain drops down in the valleys as well. We’ll see a very similar pattern through Friday and into the weekend as well, with Saturday potentially being the best day to see some rain for many of us in the lower elevations.

River Update

Warmer temperatures are staying firmly in place across much of the region for the next little while. That will continue to cause more melting of the winter snowpack that eventually runs down into the rivers, creeks, and streams across the Western Slope.

The Colorado River near the CO-UT state line is at 12.42 feet Wednesday morning. It is expected to rise above its 12.5-foot action stage on Wednesday night 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 at 11.06 feet Wednesday morning, already at its action stage where minor flooding starts to occur. It is forecast to increase to nearly 12 feet on Friday afternoon.

  • 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 9.20 feet on Wednesday morning. It is expected to reach its 9.4-foot action stage on Thursday afternoon. It will crest at 10.12 feet on Saturday 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 gage 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.

The Dolores River near Bedrock is holding steady near its 9.7-foot action stage. If the dam upstream at McPhee Reservoir has to be opened to increase flow into the river, a sudden spike in the water level is more likely downstream near Bedrock.

Plateau Creek near Cameo could cause minor flooding near the river banks. The forecast brings the river up to 7.82 feet, close to minor flood stage, on Saturday morning. Homes start flooding at about 8 feet. The forecast holds just below that point.

Next 24 Hours

Partly to mostly cloudy skies continue to build in over the Grand Valley and surrounding lower elevations through the rest of the afternoon while the higher terrain once again sees another round of scattered showers and a few thunderstorms. It’ll be another warm day with highs in the upper 70s and lower 80s. Any mountain rain ends this evening, but we’ll still see mostly clear to partly cloudy skies tonight with lows in the upper 40s and lower to middle 50s. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will still mostly favor the mountains Thursday afternoon, but rain chances down in the valleys start getting a little better as well with highs once again in the middle to upper 70s and lower 80s.