Salt River Flow Predictions - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-23-2017   #1
bwest's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 122
Salt River Flow Predictions

We are hoping to do a trip 4/12, anyone have any way to predict flows? Im sure this thread has already been discussed at length, feel free to send a link to previous threads.

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Old 02-25-2017   #2
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 64
Flows and forecasted flows:

Basin outlook reports:

Snowpack Summary:
SNOTEL Narrative

Weather forecast for headwaters (Sunrise Park, in the White Mountains):

Snowpack at Sunrise Park:

You should hope for cold weather, and snow. If it heats up, not good. If it heats up and and rains, it will wipe it all out. A hot couple days in early Feb took things from 100% snowpack to 66%. Its stayed pretty cold since then and there is a bit of snow in the forecast.

If you do get a run on April 12 it will likely be in very low water range, but who really knows. I ran it last year in self-support duckies and kayaks on April 2, at around 380 cfs. Have a permit for April 4 this year and hoping for at least low-end flows for small rafts, but I'm not terribly confident.

Here's my extrapolated ranges from personal experience, buzz posts, ranger discussions. People have different thresholds and opinions which is fine.
1700+ good to go in a larger raft (15/16 footer)
1000+ low but good to go in smaller rafts (13 footer or less), more challenging in larger
600-1000+ very low, still doable in smaller rafts but leave the big coolers and dryboxes and bring the lightweight gear and food.
450-600 - doable but borderline for anything but a IK, kayak or tiny raft. Backpacking gear & food. Blackrock and Corkscrew getting ugly, consider lining.
250-450 - IK's, hardshells, tiny rafts only. Backpacking gear & food. Blackrock and especially Corkscrew are ugly.

At low flows, if your craft warrants it, putting in at "hoodoo" (end of day run) gets you past some of the shallowest rapids, which are above there. When in doubt go right on rapids above there.
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Old 02-27-2017   #3
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 32
With tons of Salt thru trips I would say the water level description is pretty accurate. The Salt channelizes pretty well on most of it making it runnable at fairly low flows. I have done the thru trip all the way down to 160cfs. Mostly hard shells but we did have a 10 raft make it thru at that level. Corkscrew is a blast at low flows especially if you like creeking. Black rock on the other hand is borderline unrunnable. I know at 160 cfs I tried twice and failed in an open boat. Might be doable in a short creeking kayak. The one slot with water comes in sideways behind a big rock. You would have to be able to turn half way down the chute to keep from getting shoved under the falls. The good new is at low flows if you don't make it you can just stand up and walk out of the hole.
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Old 02-27-2017   #4
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Hannagan Meadows SNOTEL site is a historically pretty accurate headwater site for the Salt River. The site had up to 21" of snow water equivalent on the ground at the beginning of the month. When that started melting it took the river up to around 3500 and the swe down to 12". Then it snowed again and took it back up to 23" of water around the 20th of the month. It's melting slowly at the moment and the river is dropping slowly.

There is a good storm moving through the region currently and I wouldn't be surprised to see the swe up above 23" after it's done.... obviously the proposition of additional storms and the temperature forecasts will determine what happens next, but according to my math there is enough snow right now to provide a month of flows in the 2000-3000 range.
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Old 02-28-2017   #5
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 226
Storming over the Salt region.

Today will be exciting as we watch the storm precip and associated cfs.
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Old 03-01-2017   #6
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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Hannagan Meadows is back up to 24" of snow water equivalent. Looking to me like March is going to be a great month to run the Salt, and it's not unreasonable to think some of that snow might hang around until April...
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Old 03-01-2017   #7
Montrose, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 202
I have an April 2 permit, so I am hoping for a cold, snowy March in the high country of eastern Arizona.
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