Summer sun and rain

overflow bridge

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland

Barker Reservoir pushed water over the dam spillway at 4:45 p.m. on May 23.

The snowmelt peak occurred on Saturday, May 31 at 8:30 p.m., when the water was traveling at 568 cubic feet per second.

According to Craig Skeie, the City of Boulder Water Source Facilities Manager, this year’s peak is not a record breaker. But it is certainly a big water year because of the wet winter—the unusually heavy snowpack. The peak number is the snowmelt figure, but that could change with a heavy rainstorm.

Skeie says that although this year’s water figures are up there with some of the highest, they are not extraordinary.

In 1995, on June 15, the CFS was 593.

In 2003, on May 31, the CFS was 662.

In 2010, on June 10, the CFS was 642.

Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon

During the winter and spring, Snow Water Equivalent readings are taken from the University Snow Course in the City of Boulder Watershed at Silver Lake. Skeie takes samples from 10 stations and weighs it to get the SWE reading. This year on May 1, it was 30 inches, which is 174 percent over the average of 19 inches. Another snowstorm could add even more before the melt ends. Snow is not measured because it is constantly compacting and drifting and shifting in the tundra wind.

The snowmelt travels through creeks and streams that already have saturated ground water levels and the flow picks up speed and force as it tumbles into Barker.

The all-time average of 104 years of counting for CFS is 220 and the average snowmelt peak is 320.

white water

The good news is that we are not going through an early summer drought, fraught with wildfire danger. The bad news is that we are ripe for more flooding and road damage.

Skeie says the snowmelt will continue for at least a few more weeks.

res and reflection

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.