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Guys and Gals:

It's gonna be major this year. Dust off your dancing shoes because the snowpack looks big and red in the Upper South Platte and Upper Ark and I suspect it's just as bad or worse in the Upper Colorado and Upper Animas.

Big snow pack = big flows.
Red dust on snow = crazy fast run off. This is a fact.

Here's some good info for snowpack percentage by snowtel gage:
ftp://ftp.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/data/snow/update/co.txt

And here's some light reading:
Center For Snow and Avalanche Studies - Silverton, Colorado

So, when the night-time temps cease to drop below freezing and the sun shines all day. It's gonna rip off fast.

I'll make a bold and rash prediction:
Ark at Salida - Peak at 6k in June
Clear at Golden - Peak at 2k in July
 

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Glad to see someone finally making some predictions on flow! I agree, with my experience in the backcountry this season there is 2 red layers with the upper being the thickest. Snow pack is around 140% of average on Independence Pass and with another snow forecast for Wednesday I think its going to go huge....
I don't like the gauges around Salida because there are lots of diversions in that zone, but I do think we will see 5000+ in Browns. Would be sweet to see 6000, highest I have personally seen was 5500.
 

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I'm betting a kind beer, on 5200 cfs at the Parkdale gauge June 5th. I saw 5 grand in 97', but missed it in 2011. Stupid Afghanistan.



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I mostly know about the Glenwood area, but is this forecast just way off for some reason. Is it always off or only for this season?

 

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Not sure about 6k in Salida and 2k in golden. Seems a bit much.

I'll vote on 3,800 in Salida and 1,600 in Golden.


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I don't think that forecast figures in the dust layer and associated acceleration of melt. If the weather stays cool and wet into June then 2600 is probably accurate, but if it gets hot quick the river is going to go huge.
 

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2009 had 37" of moisture at Independence (Brumely) on April 14th and the river peaked just over 3000 at Nathrop during the last week of June.

2010 had 34" of moisture and peaked around 5000 the second week in June.

2011 had 50" of moisture and peaked around 4000 in early July.

2012 had 8" of moisture and peaked in the first week of May at 700.

2013 had 38" of moisture and peaked just shy of 3000 the second week of June.

2014 has 51" of moisture on April 14th.....
 

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It's tougher to predict what will happen on the Ark because there is so much west slope water coming through. So Ark basin snowpack isn't the only factor in the final flow pattern. Throw in a dust storm at a couple different times during winter and it further compounds a prediction. This year the dust is on top, what if it happened in December and isn't exposed until later in the runoff?

2011 was a crazy year in that it seems like we saw ~3K almost all summer long, and we actually grew tired of it with the endless stresses that accompany peak runoff. Monarch received 40 feet of snow that year. For more fun in peak flow discussion, that historically high and long runoff was followed immediately in 2012 by an historic low/short runoff. On top of that, who knows what the next 6 weeks will bring in the form of additional or reduced snowpack.

Final stats at Monarch: 340 inches, with a final settled base of 8 feet. They maintained 100" base through the entire last month or more of the ski season. If Roaring Fork/Frying Pan drainages have the same type of snowpack, and it appears they do, we could see another banner year. But a whole bunch of variables that makes forecasting so much fun!
 

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I think it will get big fast when temps come up, last week's warm weather over the Colorado Basin raised flows up fast but now dropping with cold front. WW rose from 4k to 9k in a few days so thats an indication of melt rate for the upper drainages.
 

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I hope you guys are right and we do get 4-5,000 cfs on the Ark. Seems like it's very possible, knowing how much new snow I skied on the past couple of months. It's a matter of the melt pattern.

Was it 4 years ago it got that high? It was great fun to do Gorge runs at that level, and I hope we can do that again!
 

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I would be interested to know how much of the west slope water actually sees the Ark... I know the vast majority of it goes directly from Twin Lakes to the pump station, and from there it either dumps into Spinney and the South Platte or goes on to Rampart to be used by Colorado Springs. I know some of it is owned by Pueblo, but I am not clear on how much.
 

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At what point will flows be too high and at what point will they drop back down, to where a rookie oarsman can row his new to him raft safely? I hit the Upper C at 800 a couple weeks ago and did the Roaring Fork in February, but that is the extent of my experience.
 

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I would be interested to know how much of the west slope water actually sees the Ark... I know the vast majority of it goes directly from Twin Lakes to the pump station, and from there it either dumps into Spinney and the South Platte or goes on to Rampart to be used by Colorado Springs. I know some of it is owned by Pueblo, but I am not clear on how much.
Well 38% of the roaring fork and 37% of the frying pan go to the Arkansas river basin according to the roaring fork conservancy.

That's all I got
 

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At what point will flows be too high and at what point will they drop back down, to where a rookie oarsman can row his new to him raft safely? I hit the Upper C at 800 a couple weeks ago and did the Roaring Fork in February, but that is the extent of my experience.
Gretch,

It'll depend on where you go. There are stretches of the Colorado below Glenwood Springs that will be runnable by a novice no matter what the flow (just very swift running and you better keep an eye out for the occasional monster hole).

-AH
 

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So at high water there are 3 things to look out for below glewn wood... Make that 4. The wave park, stay right run the boat chute you'll be ok. 2 south canyon it can get you into the pylons and there are a couple of laterals, start river left follow the wave train keep your nose pointed away from danger(the pylons) 3 after south canyon there is a train trestle 3 big ass pylons keep left of the center one, i have seen rafts wrapped on it, 4 dinosaur rapid, dont fuck with it serious consequences can happen when the flow is really runnung, keep way right enjoy the view of a massive pipeline looking super hydraulic wave. After that is the tibbets take out on the right. If you venture further the new castle take out is on the left after the highway exit.
Dress to swim keep your pfd tight on you and if you do go in get to either bank. If you need someone to take you through i will but, just dont follow my line......
 

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The snowpack statewide is only 114 percent with the northern mountain in the 130's. It should be higher than normal but I wouldn't be predicting any huge record flows this year.
 

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There is another factor no one has mentioned that will make more of a difference this season, and that is the September floods. We get dust on the snow every year, but rarely see heavy precipitation in September like we did last year. NOAA cited this as a factor in their flood threat assessment for the front range. I would expect boatable flows sooner than normal and a higher peak. Bottom line is that shit is gonna go big this year!
 
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