Mountain storms continue as river flooding worsens

Zack Webster's KJCT First Alert Weather - 5/22
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 11:42 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms will once again favor the higher terrain of the Western Slope over the next couple of days.

Mountain Showers and Storms

Scattered showers and thunderstorms will once again pop up mostly over the higher elevations of the Western Slope this afternoon. We’ll continue to stay mostly dry in the valleys. A couple of showers are possible, but not very likely. Rain ends and skies start clearing out tonight and into Tuesday morning, then we’ll see yet another round of afternoon showers and thunderstorms over the mountains by Tuesday afternoon. Drier air starts moving in on Wednesday, and as we head into the end of the week we should see most of the showers and storms pop up east of the Continental Divide and out across the Front Range.

Wildfire Smoke

We’ve seen some hazy conditions through the weekend due to some wildfire smoke coming down from Canada. You may still notice some hazy conditions over the next couple of days, then southwesterly winds on Wednesday will start pushing that smoke north and east of us again.

River Updates and Potential Impacts

Things have remained fairly steady with river flooding and any potential impacts, particularly around the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. The Flood Advisory for the Gunnison River around Delta is no longer in effect, but Flood Advisories have now been issued for Surface Creek until further notice as well as the North Fork of the Gunnison River, Cottonwood Creek, Jay Creek, Leroux Creek, and Bell Creek in Delta County until 6 PM Thursday.

The Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah state line is at 12.31 feet late Monday morning. The river level will gradually climb amid some small ups downs. The latest forecast indicates the river will climb up to 13.4 feet late Friday morning. Keep in mind, this is a seven day forecast. Flooding may persist beyond this forecast.

  • 6 feet: Some lowland and meadow flooding is possible near Fruita
  • 10 feet: Water will approach sections of I-70 near Fruita
  • 12 feet: Considerable agricultural flooding is likely between the Redlands and Fruita
  • 14 feet: Flooding is likely in the Redlands

The Gunnison River near Grand Junction - just south of town - was at 10.56 feet late Friday morning. It’s already at its action stage where minor flooding starts to occur. Water levels will have some small ups and downs, but overall it forecast to hover near or just below 12 feet through next Friday. Keep in mind, this is a seven day forecast. Flooding will likely persist beyond this forecast.

  • 7 feet: Water inundates sections of the river walk near Redlands Dam
  • 8.6 feet: Water reaches the top of the left bank of the west side of the Hwy 141 Bridge, and water begins to fill the gravel quarry upstream from the bridge.
  • 9 feet: Lowland flooding near the Redlands Dam is likely, including some low-lying agricultural land.
  • 10 feet: Considerable agricultural flooding is likely between Whitewater and Orchard Mesa and water flows into the quarry downstream of the Hwy 141 Bridge
  • 11 feet: Water nears the bottom of the Hwy 141 Bridge and it reaches the base of the bridge near Redlands Dam.
  • 13 feet: Residential flooding begins near Redlands Dam

The Dolores River near Bedrock was measured at 9.6 feet on Monday morning - just below the 9.7-foot action stage. If the dam upstream at McPhee Reservoir has to be opened to increase flow into the river, a sudden spike is likely downstream near Bedrock soon after.

Plateau Creek near Cameo was measured at 6.36 feet late Monday morning. There will be small ups and downs in the water level as the levels gradually increase. The creek could top 8 feet, which is homes near the river begin to flood, early Friday morning. The creek is forecast to continue climbing through the weekend, possibly reaching as high as 9.1 feet late early Monday morning. The record level is 8.7 feet, so the current forecast could mean record-breaking water levels on Plateau Creek.

JUCO World Series Sneak Peek

Things are looking great for now for the start of the JUCO World Series at Suplizo Field on Saturday. Expect plenty of sunshine with some passing clouds through the day. Morning lows start off in the middle 50s, then we’ll climb into the middle 80s by the afternoon. Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen on hand.

Next 24 Hours

Partly to mostly cloudy skies continue with some hazy conditions over the valleys through the rest of the afternoon with highs in the middle to upper 70s and lower 80s. We’ll see scattered showers and thunderstorms once again, but they’ll start migrating almost entirely back to the higher terrain. A couple of quick showers in the valleys are possible into the early evening, but not very likely. Rain ends and skies clear out tonight with lows in the middle to upper 40s and lower to middle 50s. Partly to mostly cloudy skies with mountain showers and storms are back on Tuesday with highs once again in the middle to upper 70s and lower 80s.