River nears peak flow

Salidan Sacha Halenda cools off by surfing the Office Wave above the Coors Boat Ramp on the Arkansas River Wednesday afternoon. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach the mid-90s through the weekend and into next week.


As FIBArk weekend approaches, Tom Waters, director of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, said the river is getting close to peak flow.

“It depends on a lot of different factors,” Waters said. “If it stays hot and dry, expect to see the peak fairly soon, as in days. We should have good flows for FIBArk.”

Waters said they saw a spike from the heavier-then-normal rains in May, but they were pretty localized, and didn’t cover the whole Upper Arkansas Basin.

He said levels may also be down due to dryer conditions last year.

“It was fairly dry last year, and the soil moisture levels are down,” Waters said. “That means the predicted flows from streams will be lower then average as the ground soaks up water before it gets to the river.”

Colorado is also facing lower snowpack then normal, meaning lower run off. However, Waters said cooler temperatures at higher elevations could slow down the rate of melt, another factor that affects when the peak flow will be reached.

The historical average for this time of year, measured at Wellsville, is about 2,100 cubic feet per second. right now it’s been about 1,800 cfs, Waters said.

“It’s tough to say what will be for the rest of the summer,” Waters said. “It’s not cut and dry as the summer goes on, but it’s flowing great right now. It’s an excellent time to be out on a boat.”

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