High Waters Prompt Flood Warnings, Close Creeks

Boulder Creek, St. Vrain Closed

From the mountains down to the metro area the rapid rise in temperatures is causing a big concern about flooding.

All the melting snow is making rivers and creeks flow over their banks, which can be dangerous.

On Monday, the Boulder County Sheriffs Department closed Boulder Creek and the North and South St. Vrain Creeks because of the high levels.

Sheriff Joe Pelle said the closures are in the interest of public safety.

Boulder Creek was flowing at three times its normal level -- at an estimated 857 cubic feet per second (CFS). It normally flows at a rate between 100 and 300 CFS, Pelle said.

The St. Vrain Creek, which normally flows at a rate between 400 and 600 CFS, was flowing at an estimated 1,190 CFS.

Boulder Creek is closed from Barker Dam east of Nederland to the Weld County line, north of Erie. The closure includes the section of Boulder Creek that flows through the city of Boulder. The North and South St. Vrain Creek closure encompasses the North and South St. Vrain Canyons including the section of the St. Vrain Creek that flows through Lyons and east to Longmont.

A portion of the walking path near Clear Creek was also closed early Monday morning. The water was rising over the path under the Washington Street Bridge. Police are concerned that someone could get swept away if the water goes up unexpectedly.

Vail, Eagle County Prepare For Flooding

In Vail, the flooding is already causing a lot of damage. A backhoe had to be brought in to move a large tree trunk that struck the Aspen Court pedestrian bridge.

"It's very nice today and that's the problem," Vail Fire Chief Mark Miller said. "It's warming up too fast."

The Eagle River, Gore Creek and Black Gore Creek are over their banks and several basements have been flooded.

A dam upstream broke so that’s no longer channeling water away from potential home damage, Miller said.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Vail and Eagle County that extends to 8 p.m. Monday.

Throughout Eagle County crews have been busy making sand bags to protect homes. Flooding is predicted to reach a high point Monday afternoon.

The town’s chief building official is evaluating a total of approximately 12 structures in East Vail and in Vail Village to assess the damage. Affected bridges also are being evaluated for structural integrity.

Several walking and bike trails around town are closed because of flooding and erosion damage from the high waters.

People who need sand bag materials are asked to pick up the free supplies from the Town of Vail Public Works building.

Residents are advised to stay away from waterways because banks are unstable and can collapse without notice. Rafting, kayaking , fishing and other water activities are highly discouraged due to the amount of debris in the rivers.

"The water is definitely raging more than I've seen in 33 years," said homeowner Jeanne Netrelow.

"I slept probably four about one hour last night because I was up every five minutes looking out the window." said Netrelow.

City officials say the damage to homes and public property will add up to several million dollars.

There is also concern about debris in the waterways.

In Vail Village, sandbags are the barrier of choice for restaurants, shops and a local hotel.

Sand Bags Hauled To Homes In Estes Park

Sand bags also line the Big Thompson River in Estes Park, which is under a flood warning. Thousands of sand bags have been hauled to homes and businesses so residents and business owners can make their own levee.

"I’ve never seen it rise this high," said Scott Wollett, an Estes Park resident of 20 years.

Poudre River Highest Since 1999

The Poudre River is at its highest flow level since 1999.

Bike trails in Fort Collins are closed in several locations, and the public is strongly advised to stay away from swiftly moving water along the river. Do not enter the river by foot, vehicle or float, Fort Collins police said.

Fort Collins authorities are urging residents, businesses and land owners along the river to take precautions to protect themselves and their property. However, the city is not providing sandbags. Residents are told to check home supply and outdoor stores for sandbag materials.

Residents are encouraged to move equipment, supplies and any floatable materials to safer locations to prevent these items from floating downstream and blocking bridges and channels.

The National Weather Service has predicted high flows on the Poudre to continue for the next several days with the highest flows occuring throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning. Typically, during snowmelt runoff, the Poudre River peaks daily in Fort Collins between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Fast-Running Water Claim Lives

The fast moving waters claimed at least two lives over the weekend. A woman drowned in a Larimer County canal on Saturday when she jumped in after her dog. An Aspen man died, as well, when his raft overturned in the Eagle River in Dowd Junction.

The Dowd Junction recreation path was closed Monday until further notice due to high water.

"Just stay out of the water, it’s a lot more dangerous than it looks," said Andy Drapeau, assistant fire chief for the Wheat Ridge Fire Department.

The water levels have risen a lot more suddenly than in years past. Above average temperatures have created above-average snowmelt.

Additional Resources:

  • To view water levels provided by the National Weather Service, visit Water.weather.gov and click on a river gauging station.
  • Real-time river flow of the Poudre River can be monitored at FcGov.com
  • See the town of Vail's video of high water.