Vail Valley: Will big snows turn to big floods? |

Vail Valley: Will big snows turn to big floods?

Daily file photoDuring high runoff, town of Vail workers will check sewer lines that cross Gore Creek for any obstructions such as fallen trees or branches. This year's record snowfall has homeowners and government workers preparing for the dangers of a high runoff.

VAIL, Colorado ” Jessica Vega is getting plenty of inquiries about flood insurance as this record-breaking winter wraps up.

“A lot of people are calling and asking about it,” said Vega, a customer service representative with Brill Insurance Agency in Avon.

This year’s record snows have some homeowners concerned about the threat of flooding, but experts say the risk seems to be decreasing.

State Climatologist Nolan Doesken said Monday several weeks of dry weather have reduced the risk of flooding from Colorado’s deep mountain snows.

Justin Finestone, a spokesman for Eagle County, said weather forecasts indicate that the risk of flooding is low for the county.

“The long-term forecast looks like there will be some warm days and cool days, so the snow would melt at a more constant rate,” he said.

A big snowpack doesn’t necessarily mean there’s going to be flooding, said Tom Kassmel, town engineer for the town of Vail.

“It all depends on how warm or cool of a spring we have,” he said.

If the weather stays cold through the early part of the spring and then warms quickly, all of the runoff could happen at once, Kassmel said.

“We’re going to watch it, and if we get more warm weather early on like we are now, that’s good because the snow will melt off in a longer period of time,” he said.

The town will make daily and nightly checks of about 90 potential trouble spots around Vail as the runoff approaches its peak. The town will also offer free sandbags.

The materials will be at the parking lot near the Interstate 70 interchange in East Vail in early May.

The Eagle River at Avon normally peaks around May 30, said Diane Johnson of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

Flood insurance can cost around $350 a year for a home that’s not in a flood plain, but that number can escalate to $1,200 for a home that’s susceptible to flooding because it’s in a flood plain, Vega said.

Beaver Creek saw the most snowfall in its 27-year history this winter. The snow melts as the spring progresses, filling local rivers and streams.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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