Have Eagle County streams passed high-water mark? | VailDaily.com

Have Eagle County streams passed high-water mark?

NWS High Waters DT 6-15-11

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – It’s still somewhat early, but it looks like all the remaining snow on the mountaintops won’t melt all at once. That’s good news for local emergency crews and residents who live near local streams.

A cool, wet May has turned into a sunny, but not hot, June. Even downvalley temperatures have gone into the 80s only a few times, and nights have been relatively cool. That’s kept the annual snowmelt running at a decent, but not destructive pace.

At least so far.

“The weather’s been a blessing so far – it’s keeping (flooding) just at bay,” Vail Fire Chief Mark Miller said.

This spring has been a pleasant change from last year in Vail, when less snow melted faster, causing flooding in town.

With last year in mind, combined with the knowlege that temperatures can, and do, climb into the 90s in Vail some summers, Miller said firefighters are doing daily checks of parts of Gore Creek.

While June temperatures can get hot, the National Weather Service forecast for the next several days calls for the warm days/cool nights pattern to continue at least through Sunday.

But Brenda Alcorn, a senior hydrologist with the weather service’s Colorado River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, said higher temperatures are forecast for next week. Those warmer temperatures could bring stream levels to last week’s levels, the seasonal highs so far.

While the sun will be the main factor driving streamflow along the Eagle River, the story is different along the Colorado River.

Minor flooding is forecast for the Colorado River at Dotsero for Friday, due primarily to the fact that Granby Reservoir is going to release water so it can continue to accept melting snow.

“The problem is we don’t know how much water is coming,” Eagle County Emergency Management Director Barry Smith said.

Smith said he has plans for 18 dams upstream from Eagle County. Many of those dams are operated by different companies and agencies, and there are no reporting or coordination requirements for any of them.

That means while Granby Reservoir is releasing water this week, there’s no requirement for the operators of any other reservoirs to share their plans.

While there’s more water coming to that part of the county, Smith said the good news is that high water so far this spring has done little damage on the Western Slope. Smith said utility lines along Plateau Creek in Mesa County have been damaged. The bike path in Glenwood Canyon has suffered some serious damage as well.

“I saw a 10-foot section of that path get washed into the river the other day,” Smith said. But, Smith added, he’s been told that repairs to the path are expected to take a month, once the river levels drop enough.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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