Rivers in Southwest Colorado on Saturday again approached flood stage as warm weather sent snowmelt downstream overnight.
The National Weather Service on Saturday issued flood advisories for the Mancos, Animas and La Plata rivers, and residents reported flooding along the Dolores River about 10 miles north of town.
“We have major flooding on Road 37, Dolores, 10 miles north of Dolores,” Jeffrey L. Jahraus told The Journal. Eight to 10 properties were getting water, he said.
The flooding began Tuesday and has continued intermittently, Jahraus said. About a half-acre of his neighbor’s property was under water.
Flooding has happened at their property once or twice before, he said, but never like this. The Jahrauses live along Road 37, right by where the now-famous rock slide happened on Memorial Day Weekend.
On Tuesday, Jahraus used his tractor to lower the gravel on his driveway, in order for the water to drain, he said. He also put up a wooden barrier in between the flooded area and his house, and some neighbors had come by to assist with filling sandbags.
“It’s going to be getting worse all day long,” he said. The ground and surrounding plants were so saturated that any additional water coming through just flooded, he added.
At the gauge in Dolores, the river was flowing Saturday morning at 4,200 cubic feet per second, about 256% the average June 8 rate of 1,604 cfs. Saturday afternoon, it reached 6.7 feet at the gauge, more that a foot shy of the 8-foot flood stage.
Expect additional snowmelt this weekend as temperatures rise.
The National Weather Service forecast for Montezuma County calls for sunny skies and high temperatures in the mid-70s through Monday and overnight lows in the upper 40s. The forecast for La Plata County calls for highs in the upper 70s and 40s.
Meanwhile, flood advisories continued Saturday until further notice for the Mancos, Animas and La Plata rivers.
The river flow along the Mancos River was expected to remain near to slightly above bankfull, and minor lowland flooding was possible. Saturday morning, the river was at 5.3 feet – several inches above bankfull – and flood stage was at 6 feet. The river was expected to rise to about 5.4 feet around midnight Sunday.
A flood advisory also continued Saturday for the La Plata River at Hesperus. The flows along the La Plata River were expected to remain slightly above bankfull, and flooding is possible, the National Weather Service said. Bankfull stage is 5 feet, and flood stage is 5.5 feet. Saturday morning, the river was at 5.1 feet and expected to rise to nearly 5.3 feet by Monday morning.
The Animas River was flowing Saturday at 6.6 feet. The National Weather Service said the river was expectd to reach 6.93 feet by Sunday morning, a foot shy of the flood stage of 8 feet. Moderate flooding would occur at 9 feet, and major flooding at 10.5 feet. The record height of the Animas is 11 feet, the weather service says.
This article will be updated as information becomes available.