The bulk of Albany County’s spring runoff will occur later than usual this year after a cold, wet week means the region has just as much snowpack as it did two weeks ago.
The precipitation has only increased the county’s flood risk for June now that the Laramie Basin’s snowpack is 324% of where it normally sits.
The South Platte Basin in northern Colorado, which supplies much of Albany County’s runoff, sits 351% of its May 31 median.
The last week has inflated snowpack numbers statewide, and about half the state’s basins currently have at least twice as much snow as they typically have entering June.
While the Laramie area began the runoff season with the highest flood risk in the state, the region has so far avoided the type of serious flooding currently plaguing Sheridan County.
“We’ve been really fortunate,” Albany County Emergency Management Coordinator Aimee Binning said. “It’s been cold enough that’s it’s moving slowly.”
With fairly cool temperatures this weekend, Binning expects it could still be another week before Laramie’s rivers become bankful.
The Laramie River causes minor flooding once it becomes 9-feet deep. Currently, the river’s carrying a little more than 7 feet of water, but that’s expected to rise to 8.25 feet by Wednesday.
With a sunny 75-degree day in Laramie forecasted for Monday, and more rain on the way by the middle of next week, National Weather Service Hydrologist Jim Fahey said the the rate of snowmelt above 9,000-feet could greatly accelerate near the end of the week.
Still, the high snowpack numbers around Albany County still fall short of the amount of water that caused flooding in the county in 2011 and 2014, Fahey notes.
It’s still possible that a slow, steady runoff this month could save Albany County from serious flooding, he said.
“That’s the best case scenario,” Fahey said. “The worst case scenario comes if we have really warm temperatures for three days in a row and then there’s a big rainstorm on top of that.”