Spring Snowmelt Bringing Rising Water Levels and Speeds to Colorado Rivers

Arkansas River Spikes by 600 cubic feet per second on May 16.

This United States Geological Survey graph shows the Arkansas River spiking by 600 cubic feet per second in Pueblo on Monday, May 16. Swift Water Rescue Teams are urging caution as snowmelt season begins in earnest.

U.S. Geological Survey

This United States Geological Survey graph shows the Arkansas River spiking by 600 cubic feet per second in Pueblo on Monday, May 16. Swift Water Rescue Teams are urging caution as snowmelt season begins in earnest.

Spring snowmelt is already bringing fast-moving and rising water to the Arkansas River in Pueblo, according to the local Swift Water Rescue Team, and kayakers and fishermen alike are being urged to take caution.

The U.S. Geological Survey showed the Arkansas River spiking by 600 cubic feet per second on Monday through Pueblo, deepening one stretch by a whole foot. The river at the Moffat Street gauge was running at 1,440 cfs on Wednesday afternoon, making water in the city kayak course in particular a challenge, according to KOAA Channel 5.

“The kayak course … was designed for people who are used to kayaking or boating, who know what they’re doing and have more river experience,” Pueblo Fired Department engineer Ryan Moran told the news outlet. “This is not a place for just inner-tubing leisurely.”

While no fatalities have been reported on the Arkansas to date during this spring runoff season, a peak period for whitewater kayaking and rafting, two young brothers died on May 8 when they fell into the fast-moving Little Thompson River near Pinewood Springs in northern Colorado.

“You may not know that an hour ago they released more water,” Moran told KOAA. “You could be standing in what you thought was a safe place when it starts washing over you at that point and washes you off the rocks.

“As a parent myself, my children wonder why we can’t go play on the river, too, and I have to explain to them that’s just not safe,” said Moran, also a member of the Swift Water Rescue Team. “We’ll go play some place in the water that is safe.”

 

 

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