Fryingpan Flow Stabilizes

ASPEN, CO – 6/19/15 – As of Friday morning the Fryingpan River stabilized around 750 cfs (USGS gage #09080400). In addition, the average runoff flow into Ruedi Reservoir (Colorado Basin River Forecast Center RURC2) has been on the decline. This rate is also forecast to decrease in the coming days, assuming there are no major precipitation events.

“Based on current inflow rates, it would take at least eight days for Ruedi Reservoir to fill,” said James VanSharr, Water Resource Chief for the Bureau of Reclamation. “We will also continue diverting water from Ruedi to the Front Range, which slows the filling of the reservoir.” said VanSharr.

“This is great news,” said Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott, “with both the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers stabilizing we are able to focus our attention on continued public outreach and river monitoring.” The Pitkin County Incident Management Team (PCIMT) and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office had not recorded any life safety or property damage reports as of 3:00 p.m. on Friday. “We observed minor water flow in the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park, but no structures were threatened.” said Operations Section Chief Jake Spaulding.

“Although the immediate danger seems to have passed, we are still at a heightened state of awareness,” said Knott. Keep in mind that dangerous water conditions still exist due to increased water flow levels. Also, it is critical that residents are prepared for changing river conditions and the potential flooding. The areas of greatest concern continue to be homes along River Cove, Swinging Bridge Lane, River Oaks Lane, and homes in the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park.

There are three important steps residents can take to be prepared for a flooding emergency. First, create a go-kit that includes essentials to take with you in the event you need to evacuate your home. Learn what should be in your go-kit at http://goo.gl/1xnWAU. Second, monitor the areas in and around your property for changing water conditions. Lastly, be prepared to self-evacuate if you believe you are in danger. Do not wait for an evacuation notice from a public safety entity.

Heading into the weekend, the Pitkin County Incident Management Team will transition command back to local public safety agencies. Trigger points have been identified that would reactivate the PCIMT if the situation escalates. Local public safety will also continue to monitor critical points in town and along the rivers.

Stay tuned to developments by listening to NOAA weather radio, your local radio stations and by visiting pitkinemergency.org. Emergency alerts will be sent to the public via Pitkin Alert. Citizens who have not already signed up for this free service are encouraged to do so at www.pitkinalert.org. Please direct all media questions to Blair Weyer, Public Information Officer, at (970) 315-2478.

Fryingpan Flows Increasing

ASPEN, CO – 6/18/15 – On Thursday, June 18, 2015, the Basalt Police Department learned that flows into the Fryingpan River from Ruedi Reservoir (USGS gage #09080400) will reach 750 cfs (cubic feet per second) by 5:00pm today, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott requested assistance from the Pitkin County Incident Management Team (PCIMT) and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office around 10:30am today due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of this situation. Geographically speaking Pitkin County, Eagle County and the Town of Basalt could all be impacted by increased flows to the Fryingpan. Currently, the PCIMT is functioning primarily in a preparation, monitoring and public outreach capacity.

As of this afternoon, Ruedi Reservoir is 3,500 acre-feet from total capacity. Current average daily inflow to the reservoir is over 1,000 cfs. It is possible that the reservoir could reach capacity by Monday morning based on Bureau of Reclamation’s models.

Water from Ruedi can typically be diverted to the Front Range if it nears capacity, but many reservoirs are already at or near capacity due to heightened temperatures and recent precipitation. This has necessitated the need to increase flows into the Fryingpan.

“Bureau of Reclamation facilities and dams are safe and performing well,” said Eastern Colorado Area Manager, Jaci Gould. “During spring runoff we will continue providing updates on changes in releases from Ruedi Dam.” said Gould.

“We are concerned that some low-lying areas along the Fryingpan and confluence with the Roaring Fork are at risk for flooding,” said Chief Knott. “Our number one priority is getting the word out to community members so they can take the necessary steps to protect their homes and have safety plans in place.” he said.

The areas of greatest concern in Basalt are homes along River Cove, Swinging Bridge Lane, River Oaks Lane, and homes in the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park.  Officials are also concerned about the area immediately surrounding the Basalt Avenue (7 Eleven) pedestrian bridge. “This area is a popular area for local children to play during the summer, especially when temperatures are expected to be above 80 degrees this weekend.” said Knott. Currently, dangerous swift water conditions exist and parents/caretakers are urged to keep children away from the rivers.

Citizens are cautioned to stay at least 25 feet away from river banks as terrain may become unstable due to increased water flow. “What was once a sturdy river bank has the potential to get washed out quickly in these types of conditions,” warns Knott.

The Pitkin County Incident Management Team continues to monitor water flow gages along the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. They have also alerted all fly fishing and rafting companies Roaring Fork and Eagle River Valleys. Fly fishermen and women in the Fryingpan were notified in person of increasing water flow by local law enforcement officers. Personnel will also begin door to door outreach in high risk areas in and around Basalt to alert residents.

Conditions along the upper Roaring Fork river have stabilized since the most recent rain event. Water flows at Stillwater Reservoir (USGS gage 09073400) were measured at 1,220 cfs as of Thursday afternoon.

Stay tuned to developments by listening to NOAA weather radio, your local radio stations and by visiting pitkinemergency.org. Emergency alerts will be sent to the public via Pitkin Alert. Citizens who have not already signed up for this free service are encouraged to do so at www.pitkinalert.org. The Bureau of Reclamation will also be posting updates regarding Ruedi Reservoir on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Please direct all media questions to Blair Weyer, Public Information Officer, at (970) 315-2478.
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Press Release

For Immediate Release


Blair Weyer, Public Information Officer
Pitkin County Incident Management Team
pio@pitkinemergency.org | pitkinemergency.org
Media Inquiries: (970) 315-2478

ASPEN, CO – 6/17/15 – After a night of heavy rainfall followed by warming temperatures, the Roaring Fork River in the Aspen area rose to flood stage early Wednesday morning. Minor flooding in low lying areas is possible.

As of early Wednesday morning the Roaring Fork, running through Aspen at USGS gauge 09073400, was measured at 1,680 cfs (cubic feet per second), an increase of over 500 cfs since last night’s storm. Temperatures are also forecasted to be in the 80’s through the weekend which is likely to increase increase snow melt at higher elevations.

A Pitkin County Incident Management Team, comprised of local law enforcement, fire, medical and other public safety entities throughout the valley, has been activated and is monitoring river flows on a daily basis. The team is also monitoring any structures located in areas that are known to be susceptible to flooding.

Officials warn the public to stay alert to changing conditions. “The Roaring Fork, on and around the Northstar Preserve east of Aspen, has been more than bankfull for the past couple of weeks,” said Alex Burchetta, Incident Commander. “Last night’s thunderstorm pushed the river to flood stage,” Burchetta said.  “There are a few homes close to the river in that area that could experience minor flooding,” he said.

Extreme caution is urged to those recreating in or near waterways. “We are really concerned about visitors,” said Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, “People tend to underestimate the power of the river’s current. We do not want to see a tragedy.”

Citizens are urged to stay at least 25 feet away from high flowing rivers. Avoid flooded areas and unstable riverbanks. Do not drive through flooded areas as two feet of water is enough to float most vehicles.

Frying Pan River water flows are also being monitored closely by the Bureau of Reclamation. The release from Ruedi will increase today by approximately 100 cfs and tomorrow morning by 50 cfs. After these adjustments, the flow at the Fryingpan River gage below Ruedi Reservoir will increase to approximately 440 cfs. For any concerns regarding reservoir operations at Ruedi, please contact Patience Hurley at 701-221-1204.

Stay tuned to developments by listening to NOAA weather radio, your local radio stations and by visiting pitkinemergency.org. Emergency alerts will be sent to the public via Pitkin Alert. Citizens who have not already signed up for this free service are encouraged to do so at www.pitkinalert.org.

Please direct all media questions to Blair Weyer, Public Information Officer, at (970) 315-2478.

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TELEPHONE AND INTERNET OUTAGE IMPACTS VALLEY

(ASPEN, CO) – 5/27/2015 – Most cellular, landline and internet services were restored by approximately 11:30am on Wednesday after a major CenturyLink outage occurred Tuesday evening. Officials were first alerted of the outage shortly after 5 p.m. when much of the Roaring Fork Valley’s cellular, landline and internet service became unavailable. The outage impacted the valleywide 911 system and a backup system was initiated. Some, but not all, telephones were able to reach 911 during the outage. Citizens were notified via Pitkin Alert to go to their nearest police, sheriff or fire station in case of emergency.

On Tuesday night Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputies were deployed to outlying areas of the county including Old Snowmass, Meredith and Redstone and stationed at fire stations for the night in case of emergencies in those more remote communities. The Aspen Police also took to the streets to alert local business owners of the issue and to ensure they were able to contact emergency services.

A backup phone number (970-309-1158) was set up early on Wednesday morning as an alternate way for residents to contact the Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center. The number was directed to a cell phone that was located within the dispatch center.

“As far as we know, the backup systems put in place were effective and there were no major emergencies during the outage,” said Pitkin County Sheriff, Joe DiSalvo. “Sadly, we did get a report of a dog running at large in Old Snowmass that was hit by a car and killed during the outage,” DiSalvo said.

The outage created some minor glitches in the Pitkin Alert emergency notification system. Citizens signed up for multiple alert categories received repeat alerts, in some cases, as the system attempted to overcome technical challenges.

“We are working with Everbridge, our alert system provider, to resolve this issue with Pitkin Alert,” said Director of the dispatch center, Bruce Romero. “Suffice to say the system worked, in fact it worked a little too well during the outage, and we apologize to those who may have been inconvenienced by repetitive notifications,” Romero said. “It’s a good problem to have in this case.”

Officials at CenturyLink are expected to release more information about the outage and what may have caused it as soon as possible. Updates regarding impacts to Pitkin County residents will continue to be posted on www.pitkinemergency.org.

Please direct all media questions to Blair Weyer, Public Information Officer, at (970) 315-2478.