Spectators at the 71st annual FIBArk Whitewater Festival in downtown Salida should prepare for wet evenings and potential flooding this weekend.

Steve Hodanish, meteorologist at the National Weather Service Pueblo office, said the likelihood of flooding increases if thunderstorms occur along with the area’s heavy snowmelt.

“Between the snowmelt and heavy rain, it will definitely amplify things,” Hodanish said.

However, he said he did not think the Arkansas River would flood, just small side streams along the river.

He predicted thunderstorms to be most likely in the highest regions of the area, specifically in the Sawatch Range, or on the South Arkansas by Poncha Springs.

Throughout the Sawatch Range, the chance of rainfall is about the same as Salida, between 60 and 90 percent, with about 0.1-0.2 inch of precipitation expected.

Hodanish said this year Salida has seen a “little” more moisture than usual.

Today’s forecast, according to the National Weather Service, calls for a 30 percent chance of showers, mainly after 4 p.m., with rainfall amounts totaling less than 0.1 inch.

Saturday’s storm chances pick up, with a 90 percent chance of precipitation and a high likelihood of thunderstorms developing in the afternoon.

Precipitation for Saturday will be between 0.1 and 0.25 inch, with higher amounts possible in a thunderstorm.

Sunday wraps up the weekend’s weather with a 60 percent chance of rain, with storms developing in the afternoon.

Hail is also possible throughout the weekend.

“Really, these are typical afternoon and evening storms seen throughout the mountains,” Hodanish said.

Although he said “typical” storms like these likely won’t cause flooding on the Arkansas River, he advised that only highly knowledgeable boaters venture onto the river this weekend.

“If you’re not qualified to be on the water, don’t go out. Stay with the professionals on these high waters. We’ve already had a few fatalities and don’t want more,” he said.

For more information on this weekend’s weather, visit forecast.weather.gov.

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