Is flooding in Summit’s future? |

Is flooding in Summit’s future?

Bob Berwyn
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

SUMMIT COUNTY – It may be a bit early to start filling sandbags, but water watchers in Summit County are making plans for all the likely huge amount of snow that will melt in the spring. With snowpack in the Blue River Basin more than 150 percent of average, water commissioner Scott Hummer said mountain communities should start thinking about the potential for flooding because this spring could see the biggest runoff in years.

“There are a lot of new people in the area,” Hummer said. “We haven’t had this potential for probably eight or 10 years, so it’s worth starting to think about.”Hummer said that anywhere near normal snowfall the rest of the winter would likely keep the snowpack well above average. A prolonged spell of warm spring or early summer weather could melt the snow and send it cascading through area streams, potentially inundating some low-lying areas.”Any time you have a snowpack of 150 percent (of average) or greater, that’s the magic number,” Hummer said.

Current computer forecasts call for runoff to be anywhere between 130 to 150 percent of average. The last time that happened was about 10 years ago, Hummer said, singling out the Riverwalk area in Breckenridge and the Valley Brook Road bridge across the Blue River as places where the river overflowed.Down in Silverthorne, the Blue River lapped up against the side of the U.S. Forest Service visitor center along the Blue River Parkway, and subdivisions farther north experienced some high water during the last big runoff year, according to Hummer. Some parts of Frisco straddling Ten Mile Creek are also susceptible, as are parts of Dillon Valley and Straight Creek, he said.”We’re conscious and watching but not really nervous,” said Silverthorne public works director Bill Linfield. The level of the Blue River through Silverthorne is largely dependent on Denver Water’s operation of the Dillon Dam. “They are pretty good about watching and releasing water early if it looks like a big runoff.”

For now it’s still wait and see how much snow falls over the next few months terms, Hummer said, adding that the medium-term outlook calls for continued wet weather through April, with a possible drying trend after that.Vail, Colorado

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