Chris Schell, left, and Timmy Schell kayak down Fish Creek near Safeway on Friday afternoon. Recent storms have pushed Fish Creek, along with the Yampa and Elk rivers, to record levels for July 8.

Photo by John F. Russell

Chris Schell, left, and Timmy Schell kayak down Fish Creek near Safeway on Friday afternoon. Recent storms have pushed Fish Creek, along with the Yampa and Elk rivers, to record levels for July 8.

Steamboat-area rivers, creeks swell after heavy rains

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— Heavy rains Thursday evening and Friday morning caused the Yampa River to flow a little faster Friday.

The river surpassed its historic peak for the date Friday. With more than an inch of rain measured during the recent storms, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the river was flowing at 3,560 cubic feet per second Friday morning. The previous all-time high for July 8 was 2,580 cfs, set in 1957. That is based on 101 years of data.

The river likely has already reached its peak flow for the runoff season; it had steadily been dropping until Friday. The Yampa had not been flowing that fast since midnight Sunday night, when it was measured at 3,690 cfs.

The Elk River just west of Steamboat also broke its July 8 record. It was flowing at 4,400 cfs Friday morning. Based on 41 nonconsecutive years of data, the previous July 8 record was 2,790 cfs, set in 1917.

Fish Creek also was raging Friday morning. At 5:30 a.m. it peaked at 1,750 cfs, crushing the July 8 record of 623 cfs, set in 1983. The average flow for this date on Fish Creek is 124 cfs. The Fish Creek measuring site is just below the Mount Werner Water treatment plant, 2.6 miles upstream from where it enters the Yampa.

Mount Werner Water General Manager Jay Gallagher said the creek can exceed 1,800 cfs, but it has not done that yet. The water treatment plant above the measuring site removes 9 or 10 cfs of water, he said.

He said today’s flow increase could be attributed to the rain and snowmelt.

“It can happen any time of year given the weather,” Gallagher said.

Flows on Fish Creek had already begun dropping by later Friday morning. At 9:45 a.m. the measuring site was reporting 1,260 cfs.

The strong storms caused some damage to roads in Routt County, including Routt County Road 33, C.R. 27 and C.R. 179.

Routt County Road and Bridge Director Paul Draper said ditches filled with sediment, causing the water to cross the roads and partially wash them away.

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