When the summer days turn long and hot, Boulder County residents often seek a little respite in the cool depths of the area’s rivers and lakes. With the potential for high snowpack and a wet spring expected to culminate, officials are advising residents to make sure they dip their toes with caution.
Longmont water resource officials and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife said residents to be prepared for high water in local creeks and ditches. While a Boulder spokesperson said, so far, Boulder’s water levels are normal.
Through September, the Longmont area is at peak season for flooding and flash floods, according to a press release put out by the city Friday. Due to flow conditions and construction in Longmont, city officials this week closed segments of St. Vrain Creek between Boston Avenue and Main Street.
Ken Huson, Water Resources manager for Longmont, said there were several contributing factors to potential high water.
“The cooler temperatures we’ve experienced mean more snow remains in the mountains, which could lead to higher runoff than we’ve seen in recent years,” Huson said.
In Boulder, Samantha Glavin, a communications specialist for Public Works, said so far, water levels across the city are “normal.”
Residents seeking information about floodplains or tips for staying safe during high-water season can visit Boulderfloodinfo.net, Glavin said. In general, she advised residents to be aware of waterway conditions and to never walk or drive through flooded roads or walkways.
“We monitor conditions really closely,” Glavin said. “If people want to, they can sign up for free emergency alerts at Boulderfloodinfo.net.”
According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a “strong” winter and wet spring overloaded mountain snowpack. CPW cautioned people to be wary of potential dangers as they spend the summer enjoying the state’s waterways. High water and swift-moving rapids can pose a threat to river rafters, tubers, anglers, swimmers as well as families who picnic by the water, according to CPW.
River water exerts a very powerful and constant force against any fixed object. Six inches of water can knock a person off their feet. Water flowing at seven miles per hour has the equivalent force per unit area as air blowing above 200 miles per hour, CPW officials said.
CPW officials offered these safety tips:
- Use a personal flotation device that is properly fitted and designed for whitewater boating or paddling. A ski vest is not appropriate for whitewater boating. Wear a helmet. Dress accordingly; though the air temperature may be hot, the water is very cold.
- People are encouraged to do their research and check river conditions of the stretches they intend to run.
- People should not attempt to swim or paddle in water in which they can’t be confident or comfortable.
- Raft with a buddy and avoid floating alone, especially during high flows.
- Those who fall into swift water should not attempt to stand up, as doing so could result in a foot entrapment. People should point their feet down river in fast water and as soon as possible swim to shore.
- Keep an eye on children. Never leave them unattended by a river.
- Scout rapids and unknown sections of the river. Rapids change at varying water levels. Spring floods can carry trees and other debris and jam up a section of a river causing a strainer, where water flows through but solids do not.