Showers and flooding and smoke.... Oh my!

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:05 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Rivers are rising, the sky is hazy with smoke, and the small chance we’ve had for afternoon showers is shrinking this week. All of this comes with a rise in temperatures this week that could get us closer to 90 degrees.

Hazy, Smokey Sky

The smoke is from wildfires in Canada. It’s making the sky hazy, and it’s helping to make our sunrises and sunsets more vivid. It will slowly subside from Tuesday morning through Tuesday evening before increasing quickly on Wednesday. The smoke is mostly well above the ground, especially in the valleys.

Our Next 24 Hours

This evening will be partly to mostly cloudy with a few showers or thunderstorm, especially on and near the higher terrain. Sunset is at 8:26 PM. We’ll cool from middle 70s around 6 PM to middle 60s around 10 PM. The rest of tonight will be partly cloudy. Low temperatures by morning will be near 54 degrees around Grand Junction, 48 degrees around Montrose, 51 degrees around Delta, and 44 degrees around Cortez. Tuesday will be mostly sunny to partly cloudy and unseasonably warm with a small chance for a stray shower or thunderstorm. High temperatures will be near 84 degrees around Grand Junction, 79 degrees around Montrose, 84 degrees around Delta, and 79 degrees around Cortez.

The Rest of This Week

The chance for rain will diminish on Tuesday and even more on Wednesday and beyond. As the depth of the atmosphere dries out, temperatures will start a slow climb toward 90 degrees. We won’t quite reach 90 degrees through next Monday, but we’re getting closer.

River Alerts

Rivers are still a concern as water levels are still rising - most with daily ups and downs, but rising over the longer term. A Flood Advisory continues for Plateau Creek near Cameo, for the Gunnison River from west of Delta to Grand Junction, and for the Colorado River from Grand Junction to Moab, Utah. A Flood Warning is in effect for the Dolores River from the Colorado River in Utah to McPhee Reservoir.

Tracking the Rivers

The Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah state line was at 12.19 feet on Monday afternoon. It is expected to rise above its 12.5-foot action stage where minor flooding begins by Tuesday morning. It will gradually rise toward a crest near 13.3 feet on Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

  • 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 measured Monday afternoon at 10.8 feet - above its 10-foot action stage where minor flooding starts to occur. It is forecast to reach a crest near 11.0 feet Wednesday afternoon or evening. Water levels will slowly subside afterward, and the river will be below action stage by next Monday evening.

  • 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 Plateau Creek near Cameo was at 6.06 feet on Monday afternoon. It is expected to rise above its 7.0-foot action stage on Tuesday night. It may briefly fall at times, but the overall trend is for rising water levels - above flood stage by Saturday night, and then potentially to near record high water levels next Monday. The latest forecast brings the river to around 9.1 feet next Monday, breaking the record high water level of 8.73 feet, which happened in 1995.

  • 7.5 feet: Some lowland flooding can be expected along Highway 65 just east of I-70.
  • 8.0 feet: Water approaches homes in the low-lying areas adjacent to Plateau Creek.

Other rivers, including the Dolores River near Bedrock and the Gunnison River at Delta, are running high and fast, but for now they are expected to remain below their action stages and their flood stages. Remember that even rivers that aren’t flooding are dangerous due to their high water levels and fast-flowing water.