High water in Routt County
The Yampa River and the Elk River have continued to rise as temperatures increase and snow melts.
Yampa River Core Trail closures
As of this evening, these sections of the Yampa River Core Trail were closed:
• From Dougherty Road to Weiss Drive
• Railroad underpass upstream of Fetcher Pond
• U.S. Highway 40 underpass at Walton Creek
• 13th Street underpass
• Trafalgar Drive to Fetcher Pond
• Chinook Drive to U.S. 40 underpass
Source: City of Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs resident Cedar Beauregard is providing a bird’s-eye view of flooding in Routt County.
On Wednesday, Beauregard used a remote-controlled plane equipped with a high-definition video camera to show the high water on Steamboat’s south side.
“It’s essentially my own private predator drone,” Beauregard said Thursday.
He started doing aerial photography in 2005. He said he knows there is an application for the technology in emergency situations, but he has mainly stuck to commercial work such as aerial photos and video for real estate agents.
Beauregard’s company website is www.steamboataerials.com.
Goggles allow him to see video from the plane’s perspective while he is flying, which has allowed him to fly the plane four miles away from where he is controlling it.
Beauregard said he plans to regularly film the rising rivers in Routt County.
“I love how it works,” he said.
The depth of the Yampa River remained steady Thursday at about 6 feet at the Fifth Street Bridge measuring site, and it is expected to peak at 6.7 feet today, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
An above-average temperature trend is expected to continue into Monday and Tuesday, with the forecast calling for high temperatures in the 70s.
The Yampa is forecast to reach 7.7 feet at Fifth Street by 6 a.m. Monday and rise to 8.2 feet by 6 a.m. Tuesday. The flood stage at that location is 7.5 feet. The third-highest recorded depth at that location is 7.65 feet, set on June 3, 1997. The record crest was June 8, 1905, when the river reached 8.9 feet. A year ago, the Yampa crested at 6.72 feet on June 7.
In terms of cubic feet of water per second, the Yampa was flowing at about 3,500 cfs early Thursday. That is about 150 percent of average and shy of the June 2 record of 4,860 cfs set in 1914.
The Elk River was measured at 7.3 feet near Milner on Thursday morning and is forecast to reach 9 feet by 6 a.m. Tuesday. Moderate flood stage at that location starts at 8.5 feet, and the major flood stage starts at 9.5 feet.
Aldis Strautins, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said last week that flood stage varies widely up and down the river depending on the width and depth of the channel. Changes in the channel and obstructions such as logs wedged against bridges also make a difference, Strautins said.
At 7.5 feet, there would be some flooding of properties along the river in Steamboat, he said. At 8.5 feet, commercial buildings along Yampa Street could be affected.
The U.S. Geological Survey shows the Yampa peaking as high as 6,820 cfs (a gauge height of just 6.64 feet) on June 14, 1921. It’s almost a certainty that the channel of the river in the town stretch has changed during the intervening 90 years.
The highest peak in recent years was 5,310 cfs (7.65 feet) on June 3, 1997.
“My word for the runoff this year is ‘biblical,’ but nobody really knows,” Peter Van De Carr said.
Van De Carr has lived in Steamboat since 1978 and was here for the floods in 1984 and 1997. He also owns Backdoor Sports along the banks of the Yampa downtown. He has been at that location since 1990.
“I think I have a 30 or 40 percent chance of flooding,” Van De Carr said.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com