DENVER (CBS4)- Experts predict there will be two waves of flooding in Colorado, with the first one this weekend.
This year’s record snowpack it more than three times normal levels in the South Platte River Basin. That basin serves the Denver metro area.
Tributaries and streams that flow into the South Platte River are already rising. In some cases, it’s three times the normal depth.
“There’s an incredible amount of snow to melt up there. It’s all got to come down eventually,” said Colorado Water Conservation Board spokesman Kevin Houck.
Flooding is happening in some places of Steamboat Springs. Sandbagging is underway near Fort Collins.
Experts gathered in Denver on Wednesday to figure out how high the water will rise and how long the flooding will last. They identified potential trouble spots on the Yampa, the upper Colorado and the North Platte Rivers. On the Front Range, they’re worried about the Cache la Poudre and the Big Thompson Rivers and Clear Creek.
Rafters may enjoy the increased flows in Clear Creek, but a forecasted warm spell is expected to cause flooding between June 4 and June 10.
“Mainly in Clear Creek County and it looks like there could be some problems into western Jefferson County,” said National Weather Service spokesman Treste Huse.
There’s so much snow to melt, some experts are predicting double trouble.
“I think we could be looking at something like a double peak this year,” said Houck.
That means streamflows will max out with this weekend’s warm weather, then back off during a cooler period and rush again when the weather warms up again.
“It’s possible these streams could drop, than rise again, possibly to even higher levels later in June,” said Houck.
The worst snowmelt flooding in recent memory was 1984, when 15 Western Slope counties were declared a disaster by then President Ronald Reagan.
This year’s snowpack is bigger than that year, so the potential exists for even more problems.