Rivers hitting new heights
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Localized rains Friday morning, combined with warmer midweek temperatures that increased the high-country snowmelt rate, likely contributed to a spike in river levels through Glenwood Springs on Friday.
Both the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers at Glenwood Springs reached new peak levels for the spring runoff season on Friday, according to readings at two local U.S. Geological Survey streamflow gauging stations.
As of early Friday afternoon, the Colorado River below the confluence at Two Rivers Park was running at 27,100 cubic feet per second (cfs), and had risen to more than 11 feet.
That eclipsed the previous peak reading for the season at that location, of 25,600 cfs and 10.8 feet, on June 7.
Likewise, the Roaring Fork River just above the confluence topped out around 9,000 cfs and 7 feet early in the day Friday.
The previous peak for this season on the Roaring Fork in Glenwood was 8,100 cfs and 6.8 feet, also on June 7.
Similar spikes in river levels were recorded at gauging stations farther upstream on the Roaring Fork on Friday. However, the river levels had dropped by early afternoon.
The new river crests appeared to be a localized phenomenon in the Roaring Fork Valley, however, and came as there was significant rainfall in places up and down the valley early in the day Friday.
The gauging station on the Colorado River at Dotsero hit about 16,500 cfs early Friday. The June 7 reading at that point was in excess of 18,000 cfs, which still stands as the peak flow for that location this season.
Officials still expect area river levels to remain above normal for the next few weeks, with some fluctuation depending on temperatures and weather patterns. However, the majority of the spring snowmelt in the high country already has happened.
Earlier this week, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service snow survey supervisor Mike Gillespie said the snowpack in the Colorado River Basin was about three-quarters melted. The Roaring Fork watershed also was nearing peak meltout at that time, he said.
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The Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge experienced vandalism in the form of significant water damage after a man removed a pipe valve with a fire extinguisher flooding four hallways. The lodge however remains open and operational.