For Immediate Release May 19, 2011
Staff Contact: Rigo Leal, Public Information Officer, 303-651-8840
View the most recent Press Releases.
Be Aware of Runoff and Potential Flooding
MAY 19, 2011 - With all the recent rainfall, City of Longmont officials are watching rivers and streams in the area with a keen eye. Fortunately, there is no reason for concern at the moment but this provides a good opportunity to remind residents about the dangers of flooding.
High snowpack, warm temperatures and heavy thunderstorms are a recipe for flooding in areas near Lefthand Creek and the St. Vrain River in Longmont. Residents are advised to keep an eye on the sky and listen to weather warnings from the National Weather Service and local City officials.
Better yet, to receive a phone call, text message, or e-mail message when flooding is imminent residents are encouraged to sign up for the Everbridge emergency notification system at www.ci.longmont.co.us/police/massnotification.htm.
The Everbridge system does not replace Boulder County's reverse 911 system, instead it supplements reverse 911 by adding the capability of sending voice messages, text messages and e-mail messages alerting subscribers when an emergency is in progress and provides guidance on what actions to take.
Here are a few general tips for flood preparation:
• Prepare an emergency evacuation kit. A gallon sized plastic bag should hold your prescription medications, copies of important documents like your driver’s license, insurance and financial information. A thumb drive full of important family photos could also be included.
• Get to know your neighbors. You could have neighbors close by that may need some additional help during an emergency.
• Make your family plan. Talk to children about what to do, where to meet, and how to contact each other during an emergency.
• If you rent your home, buy renters insurance.
• The City will notify residents of disasters using the Everbridge notification system. This system can contact you via text message, email or voice making it very versatile. Register at www.ci.longmont.co.us/police/massnotification.htm.
• A Flood Watch means weather conditions make flooding likely – be alert and tune in to local media for details. A Flood Warning means flooding is occurring or will occur. Seek higher ground immediately!
Longmont’s Department of Public Works and Natural Resources (PWNR) maintains a continually vigilant eye on the City’s water supply and conditions which impact it, according to Wes Lowrie, Water Resources Technician. He’s one of PWNR staff who monitors flow of rivers and streams in the area. The mountains have been getting significant snowfall this winter and “the average peak snowpack date is April 23 and we’ve already passed 171 percent of last year”, he said.
Lowrie added that the City tracks snowpack, stream flow and weather conditions in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park and Button Rock Dam, west of Lyons — areas which provide good indicators of what to expect. PWNR also monitors snow data state wide to provide broader estimation of snowpack. And the ability to anticipate enables PWNR to juggle water flow to reservoirs, but must do so in an artful balance with weather conditions, stream flow, available reservoir capacity, as well as water rights laws. Water-rights laws date back to the days of the Old West — use of it is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Although the ability to anticipate stream flow is valuable, the ability to predict specifically is similar to that of meteorologists—it’s limited. Colorado does have a history of flooding, but those events are infrequent. Nonetheless, the public should be aware and use available information such as: weather forecasts, government web sites, e-mail alerts and City press releases. People plan trips, commutes to work and other activities based upon weather forecasts. The public’s focus on snowpack melt-off awareness should be similar.
Dan Wolford, Manager of Parks, Open Space and Greenways for the City of Longmont, indicated that PWNR works closely with response teams, the office of emergency preparedness and clean-up teams.
Wolford says City staff will patrol and visually monitor stream flow-related conditions and will close areas where there is potential safety risk. If City staff officially close any trails, bridges and underpasses, it’s for everyone’s safety—high stream flow can carry logs and other dangerous debris. Residents should not go near, around or into the Saint Vrain Creek and should keep their children and pets away from it, as well—its current is presently fast and dangerous.
In addition to an always high level of emergency preparedness and response readiness, city staff has been reviewing streams, ditches and stormwater systems this spring for potential problems that may need attention. City engineers maintain the infrastructure and facilities that could be impacted by flooding all year long, and give extra emphasis to that work every year in late winter and early spring.
Access these government web sites to monitor snowpack melt-off and stream-flow conditions:
Natural Resources Conservations Services: http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/snow/watershed/current/daily/maps_graphs/swe_hilo.html
Colorado Surface Water Conditions: http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/district.aspx?div=1&dist=5
Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District:
Urban Drainage and Flood Control District: http://alert.udfcd.org/ (Alert system for real-time flood detection and current weather conditions.)