Low snowpack means below normal stream flows in Roaring Fork Valley

May 2, 2018

Flows in the Roaring Fork watershed are rising but remain below average.
Credit Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

Stream flows in the Roaring Fork watershed are slowly creeping upward, but the effects of this winter’s low snowpack are already showing.


Snowpack in the Roaring Fork watershed this year peaked at about 80 percent of normal, and that means experts project that stream flows will be significantly below average, as well.

River levels in the Roaring Fork Valley are rising this week, as warmer temperatures and April sunshine speed up snowmelt and runoff. But they are still well below average. Liza Mitchell of Roaring Fork Conservancy said they’ll be keeping an eye on how low stream flows dip this year.


“Low flows can be bad for us, ecologically speaking, also just in terms of our economies and recreation that’s based on that,” Mitchell said.

The Roaring Fork River is currently running as low as 68 percent of average in the lower valley. Peak runoff is expected to be earlier than normal this year, too; that usually happens in late May or early June.