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Old 07-25-2013, 12:01 PM
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Default Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

Hey guys, I have a friend that backed out on a hiking/camping trip because its in a river canyon (Colorado/Wyoming area) and he's worried about flash floods since there is a 30-40% chance of rain

I think he might be being a little too cautious. Can anyone convince me that I'm not being cautious enough, or help me convince him that there is nothing to worry about? I just don't recall any flash floods ever in the area, other than the Roaring River flash flood in RMNP, but that was caused by a dam breaking (we are not below a dam btw).
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

Be careful !

You do need to be aware that afternoon thunderstorms in the mountain regions will dump a lot of water in a hurry. In 1976 I was fishing in Cheesman Canyon and was alerted to rising water because I heard a change in the sound of the river. I told my brother.."let's get out of here". We packed up and were on the rim of the canyon and I watched as a straight wall of brown muddy water rolled behind overtaking the normally clear flow ahead of it. It was a chilling sight. We hiked to the car and still hadn't felt a drop of rain, but that changed after driving about 2 miles toward home. The rain came down so heavy I couldn't see past the hood. I pulled over and we sat in the deluge for 15 min..

The radio was warning of flash flood potential across the Front Range.

That afternoon it happened. The Big Thompson Flood. The flood killed over 130 people and obliterated everything in it's path. The normal flow for The Big Thompson is about 90 cfs. When the flood came down the Thompson Canyon the estimated flow was 32,000 cfs. All I could do was shake my head in disbelief.

Check this out....it happened a weeks ago in Waldo Canyon...http://gazette.com/video-flash-flood...rticle/1503346

I have a deep respect for what the weather can do in mountains and canyons. My advice is to fish as early as you can and plan on heading home at 10-11 o'clock to beat the storms.

Last edited by calftail; 07-25-2013 at 01:12 PM. Reason: add
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

Good call CF. We don't have much like that here in Southern Oregon but an old fishing friend fishes the mid Kalamath River. You see storm clouds coming you get the hell off the river.

Like NOW!

Only personal experience with this sort of thing was on the Chetco River in SW Oregon. River was running at about 750 cfs (fishing was the pits at that flow) and in comes a full on 'gully washer.' Next day the river was at 10,000+/- cfs. They're called an "Hawaiian Express."

Me/Folks in the RV park just stood there and watched trees float by...
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:52 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

Good info, thanks.

I've fished the S. Platte below Cheesman (above Deckers) before and can't imagine a wall of brown water like that. Were you further downstream? or in the Deckers area (when that happened)?
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:56 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

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Originally Posted by 4peace1piece View Post
Good info, thanks.

I've fished the S. Platte below Cheesman (above Deckers) before and can't imagine a wall of brown water like that. Were you further downstream? or in the Deckers area (when that happened)?
We were in the canyon about a half mile upstream of the Wigwam Club. The water was flowing about 350 cfs that morning and we crossed to the other side of the river and at 350 cfs you have to be selective where you cross or you're asking for a dunk.

Had we not pulled stakes when we did, my brother and I would have spent a really uncomfortable night in the Canyon stuck on the far bank unable to cross back over. Not a pleasant thought.

My boy climbs 14 'er mountains and this time of the year their climbs start at 2-3 am in the morning with headlamps to see their way. They summit early and get off the mountain by 11 am..... before most folks have finished their Cheerios. I've been up there in the high country in those storms and they will scare the "bejeezes" out of you. They can also kill you.

You don't have to stay out of the mountains or be afraid but like I said "be careful"...be aware and be prepared.
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Old 07-25-2013, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

You'll generally notice the signs in the area "In Case Of Flooding Climb To Safety". Don't camp down in a canyon. Other than that, you'll notice the water starting to discolor and get colder. It's only happened to me once, on the North Fork of the South Platte, and we were watching for it to happen. It would have been a difficult wade to the other side- where the car was.
All that said- I can't recall any stories about fishermen lost downstream in a flash flood around here.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

Bad news in Colorado today....people are missing and dead.

Be careful !

Raging flood rips through Colorado town, leaving 1 dead, 3 missing - CNN.com
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Old 08-11-2013, 12:12 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

to get in trouble, you need not be near the storm...I've seen one flash flood in the Sierra after a huge thunderstorm. When you see full grown pines ripped out and carried away it'll get your attn.

Amazing Flash Flood / Debris Flow Southern Utah HD - YouTube
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Old 08-11-2013, 02:17 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

Cautionary tales indeed.

That debris flow video is quite amazing! :-o
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:27 PM
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Default Re: Flash flood possiblity in river Canyon?

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Originally Posted by mikel View Post
to get in trouble, you need not be near the storm...I've seen one flash flood in the Sierra after a huge thunderstorm. When you see full grown pines ripped out and carried away it'll get your attn.

Amazing Flash Flood / Debris Flow Southern Utah HD - YouTube
Saw something like this years ago; I had no idea I could run that fast.
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