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While still far from real run off, these April flows are coming in WAY earlier than our weather would seem to indicate.

I assume the main reason for this is that the ground is still saturated from this fall's flooding.

What else is contributing? The high snow should not be melting off just yet. Is there an abundance of medium elevation snow that is responsible?

We saw a little rain bump on Sunday/Monday into Both Boulder Creek and clear creek, which never really left. Both of these are running close to 300 CFS, which is unprecedented in April, in my 20 years of boating here.

Any insights?
 

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I blame red dirt on snow and a burst of warm weather melting snow at the 10-11k elevation quickly. The Ark Valley did not see the floods, but is seeing early snowmelt and even though 300 CFS of what's in the Ark is dam release, we have been seeing early diurnal cycles varying by as much as 100 CFS. Most of the recent melting around here has been coming down from Leadville. Lake/Clear creeks have not really jumped yet.
 

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Yeah, Ark's at a grand and CO is up into the teens at state line. I hope it doesn't all come down too quickly.


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I agree, Dave. There's dust on the snow every year but not every year is preceded by epic September flooding. The frozen waterfalls in Clear Creek canyon were bigger and more numerous than I've ever seen. The upper Ark recently has a record flow for the date. And NOAA said saturated soil from the floods will contribute to higher levels this year. Definitely!
 

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Some of the Ark is last year's heavy monsoon. The owner of Royal Gorge Anglers said there are springs bubbling on Badger Creek that haven't been seen ever or for decades anyway. The ground is saturated here too. His expectation was a long season of higher water. He seemed to think the aquifers were pretty full on the Ark basin.
On a side note, I was in there picking up a new throw bag. He is on the CTF and very adamant ALL interests on the river be treated equally. And he is very aware of Fred's efforts and has spent time trying to get him to be more balanced. His shop is carrying basic NRS stuff (pfd's, k pump, straps, 303 etc; just no river wear). So a great advocate for all river interests.
 

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Forecasts say the rain this weekend in the higher elevations is going to accelerate melt rate.
 

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Based on my mtn bike ride on Dadd Gulch last week I'd guess that the Poudre is running from mid-level snow pack melt. All of the little side gullies in all the mtn bike trails on the Poudre are running fast and clear, I don't think it's from ground saturation.
 

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Yeah, Ark's at a grand and CO is up into the teens at state line. I hope it doesn't all come down too quickly.
I agree. Now that I look we have lost 20" of moisture on Independence already...


Some of the Ark is last year's heavy monsoon. The owner of Royal Gorge Anglers said there are springs bubbling on Badger Creek that haven't been seen ever or for decades anyway. The ground is saturated here too. His expectation was a long season of higher water. He seemed to think the aquifers were pretty full on the Ark basin.
On a side note, I was in there picking up a new throw bag. He is on the CTF and very adamant ALL interests on the river be treated equally. And he is very aware of Fred's efforts and has spent time trying to get him to be more balanced. His shop is carrying basic NRS stuff (pfd's, k pump, straps, 303 etc; just no river wear). So a great advocate for all river interests.
I have noticed some springs running around here as well that have been dry for 5-6 years. We did get fantastic, saturating rains last summer, just not the floods the front range saw. I think we will have a sustained high water season as well. Was it Bill you spoke with? I knew he owned some kind of outfitter...nice guy. Seems reasonable and easy to communicate with.
 

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I think it was Bill. Runs the fly fishing outfit and loves float fishing. Great guy and nice to have someone around Canon carrying basic gear. Had an almost humorous take on Fred R. Seemed to have a good take on the river and water levels too. According to him, looks like we'll be in good shape at the end of the season as far as reservoir levels too.
 

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I was told by a very reliable source that the September floods allowed the bear to become more hydrated before their hibernation. As they migrate over the continental divide they are releasing more urine in the areas above treeline. As the warm urine adversely reacts to the snow, escalating the snowmelt our end result is an earlier runoff. It has nothing to do with red dirt, dust, or warmer temperatures.
 

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Dave, I've noticed this too. Base flows were way up this winter across the state. One way to look at it is that the aquifers are full and precip/snowmelt is going right to surface flow instead of recharging ground water. Should be a good year.
 

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Up the Poudre at least it is definitely ground saturation. All the gulch creeks have been running all winter which is very unusual--and it is still very much winter on Cameron pass.
 

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I was told by a very reliable source that the September floods allowed the bear to become more hydrated before their hibernation. As they migrate over the continental divide they are releasing more urine in the areas above treeline. As the warm urine adversely reacts to the snow, escalating the snowmelt our end result is an earlier runoff. It has nothing to do with red dirt, dust, or warmer temperatures.



You are mostly correct. Bears eat beets (abundantly available from September floods). This is what increases their hydration level.

Far more concerning than the bear urine would be the increasingly disturbing level of magnesium chloride CDOT has placed on the roadside, flushing into main drainages and aggravating the trout. Angry trout lead to angry native Americans. Angry native Americans do the early-snow-melt dance. Kayaker screwed. It's science.


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All the massive fires and beetle kill is probably speeding up the snow melt too. All that area is now exposed to much more sunlight.
 

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I was told by a very reliable source that the September floods allowed the bear to become more hydrated before their hibernation. As they migrate over the continental divide they are releasing more urine in the areas above treeline. As the warm urine adversely reacts to the snow, escalating the snowmelt our end result is an earlier runoff. It has nothing to do with red dirt, dust, or warmer temperatures.

Did you hear this from Rick with parks and wildlife?
Very knowledgable about bears.

Makes sense.


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Look at the snotel sites

Andrew Slater's Real-Time SNOTEL Snow Data Images
(click on stations to see a pop-up with the graph)

Lower elevation sites (below 3000m or 10,000 ft) everywhere have seen a lot of melting.
At higher elevations, Southern mountains have seen a lot of melting, but Northern/Central mountains (Aspen to Berthoud Pass and north) are just starting to melt.
 

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I agree with Dave Franks' statemnt about the flooding.

On the front range my quess is that the high stream flow is almost entirely due to the fall flooding (but I don't keep up with dam releases and all that)

Soils can store a huge amount of water that is released to the streams over many months.

We typically don't see this in this area because most of our precip comes as snow (although a lot of snowmelt does make it down to soil storage).
Of course 50 to 500 year flood events are also not occuring every year.

In the southern Appalachians,for example, this pattern of long-term storage and reasease of rainwater over several months would not be that unusual.

Also unusual is that this flood came in the fall after a good bit of the vegetation had shut down (the sump pumps were turned off, so to speak). So there has been very little evapotranspiration loss by the vegetation.
 
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