A robust spring runoff season is expected, but Loveland officials don’t anticipate flooding from the Big Thompson River. However, city emergency management staff are working on flood planning with Larimer County and other area agencies should worst-case factors occurs.
This year’s mountain snowpack is about double the average size. Should the snowpack melt rate increase dramatically due to several days of high temperatures combined with unusual amounts of rainfall, some overflow in Loveland and elsewhere could occur.
Fairgrounds Park and some areas between Hwy 287 and Railroad Street would likely be the first areas to experience flooding. A few dozen structures in those areas and elsewhere could experience high water or flooding.
Some lower-lying streets and intersections such as First and Taft could also see some trapped water. Officials stress that if flooding were to occur, it would be very minor compared with the flooding currently being experienced along the Mississippi and elsewhere in the southeast U. S.
The national weather service estimates peak runoff of the Big Thompson and Cache la Poudre Rivers to occur about the third week of June. Unusual temperatures or rainstorms could alter those estimates.
If flooding becomes a possibility for Loveland, information on personal safety and property protection such as sandbagging tips, will be made available through the City’s website www.cityofloveland.org
Flash flooding, such as the event that killed 144 people in the Big Thompson Canyon in 1976, is caused by a stalled or slow moving thunderstorm in a narrow area rather than snowpack runoff. However, flash flooding is always a possibility in the canyon with a thunderstorm, with increased danger if combined with already high river water levels.
A general map of Loveland floodplain areas updated in 2009 by FEMA is available from a link at the bottom of the page at http://www.ci.loveland.co.us/PublicWorks/Stormwater/FloodManagement.htm.