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Metro Area Should Be Spared From Flooding

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South Platte River (credit: CBS)

South Platte River (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – The flooding in the high country has started and high water will be around for awhile.

The Yampa and Elk rivers near Steamboat Springs are already over their banks and the water is rising in Clear Creek near Georgetown, the Big Thompson River in Estes Park, and the Poudre River through Fort Collins and Greeley.

The Denver metro area should be just fine, even with all the huge snow melt.

When Mike Gavin saw the snow pack levels a month ago, the Fort Collins’ emergency manager wasn’t too worried.

“But over the last several weeks, when they were still getting snow in the high country with a lot of moisture in it, that’s when we became real concerned,” Gavin said.

Water flow is measured in cubic feet per second. Average summer run off levels are around 3,000 to 4,500.

“We could see 7,000, 8,000, possibly up to 9,000 cubic feet per second,” Gavin said.

Gavin already has a list of roads that may need to be closed and trouble spots especially north of the city.

“Probably see water in their back yards, we’re hoping not into their homes,” Gavin said.

In the high country areas around Steamboat Springs are already being overrun by the Elk River. Barricades are being built, but in some parts, it’s useless.

Tom Browning, the chief of the Watershed and Flood Protection for Colorado isn’t worried about the metro area. For the Platte River, with the way its tributaries are set up, its levels are regulated by rainfall, not snow melt.

“Unless we get some sort of a rain storm right now that would be unexpected we really don’t foresee any flooding, especially due to snow melt,” Browning said.

It’s fortunate because other cities are at the mercy of the melt.

What will determine everything is the weather. If there’s a bunch hot days bunched together some cities will be in trouble. But if it’s hot then cold off and on, that will slow the melt and they should be fine.

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