The lower Elk River is flowing at more than twice its typical volume for this date.
In most years, the Elk's streamflow at the confluence with the Yampa River, west of Steamboat Springs, has begun a steady decline by June 24. The median streamflow for June 27, based on 35 years of records, is 1,600 cubic feet per second. But the Elk, which drains much of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, was carrying enough melting snow Monday to reach a daily high of 3,440 cfs. As recently as June 24, it was flowing at 4,200 cfs.
Thanks in part to robust stream flows in Fish Creek, the Yampa River was flowing well above average on Monday where it passes beneath the Fifth Street Bridge in downtown Steamboat.
The high flows likely will keep commercial tubing companies out of the river during the busy July 4 holiday weekend.
Tubers got on the water on June 17 last year with the river flowing at 520 cfs, Peter van de Carr of Backdoor Sports said. Steamboat's commercial tubing rental companies won't put clients on the river at the current levels because conditions are unsafe. Van de Carr cautioned people not to float the river at this level without a good lifejacket. Helmets and wet suits are advisable.
The median June 27 flow in the Yampa is just less than 800 cfs, but the Yampa was pumping along at more than 1,400 cfs overnight Sunday into Monday morning.
The daily cycle on Fish Creek peaked at just less than 600 cfs Sunday night, before dipping below 400 cfs Monday morning. The average daily low flow for the date is 200 cfs.
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