Super-sized snowpacks and forecasts for a warm spring have large parts of the state on flood watch.Great phrase:
State snowpacks, at 126 percent of average, are their highest in a decade, with some regions, such as the Arkansas River Basin seeing the deepest snows in more than 40 years, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Statewide snowpacks in all mountain watersheds are above average, something that is rare in Colorado. Though snowpacks along the northern Front Range are just slightly above average, the Arkansas River Basin, whose waters serve Pueblo and Colorado Springs, are at 156 percent of average.
"At 150 percent of average, as a general rule of thumb, that's where we begin to get concerned," said Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Colorado's mountain snows, even in deep years, often melt in an orderly fashion, but if high runoffs combine with intense spring rainstorms, flooding is likely, officials said.
Rafters and kayakers should be particularly careful this spring, said Robert Jarrett, a hydrologist with the United States Geological Survey.
"We don't know how the runoff is going to come off," Jarrett said. "But what we do know is that there are going to be many months of high flow and the waters are going to be freezing cold. Anyone who gets in who can't get out quickly is going to be in trouble. That's what the public needs to know."