Summit County Government

Posted on: May 26, 2016

Sheriff's Office Urges Caution During Spring Runoff

Photo of whitewater in Tenmile Creek below a bridge.

High water levels can pose safety hazards for boaters, drivers, children and pets

Contact:
Taneil Ilano, Public Information OfficerSummit County Sheriff's Office
970-423-8903, TaneilI@summitcountyco.gov

SUMMIT COUNTY – With the unofficial start of summer coming up this weekend, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents and visitors to be mindful of high water levels throughout the area. Rivers and streams in and around Summit County can be dangerous this time of year, as the spring snowmelt peaks.

“Rivers and streams that may be fun to splash around in later on in the summer are running very fast and cold this time of year,” said Special Operations Technician Mark Watson, who helps to lead local water rescue efforts. “And there’s still plenty of snow that’s yet to come down.”

As of May 26, the Blue River was running at 750 cubic feet per second (cfs) below Dillon Reservoir, and Tenmile Creek was running at 270 cfs below North Tenmile Creek.

When participating in outdoor activities on or near the water this spring, the Sheriff's Office urges people to be cautious of fast currents caused by elevated flows. It’s especially dangerous for children and pets playing along the shores of fast-moving water, as they can easily slip on wet, muddy banks and be swept away.

Stream flows are likely to be especially high during extended periods of warm, sunny weather and during prolonged rain events. Flows in some stretches are also influenced by the release of water from dams. Summit County’s rivers and streams typically experience peak flows between late May and mid-June.

The Sheriff’s Office recommends the following guidelines to stay safe around high water:

  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground immediately.
  • Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc.
  • Avoid flooded areas and those with fast-moving water. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. Six inches of moving water is all it takes to sweep a person off his or her feet.
  • Don’t allow children or pets to play near high water, storm drains, culverts or ditches.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. It only takes two feet of water to carry away most automobiles.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when water levels are high or fluctuating.
  • When recreating in or around the water, use the proper size and type of personal floatation device (PFD, or life jacket).
  • Fishermen should wear wading belts to prevent water from entering waders during a fall.
  • Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or your local media for vital weather-related information.

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