The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the Dolores River from Rico to just below the Taylor Creek confluence beginning Thursday evening and ending Sunday afternoon.
A flood watch means that flooding is possible, but not imminent.
Rising temperatures will increase snowmelt to near flood stage, according to the watch notice issued Wednesday afternoon.
“The flows along the Dolores River and tributaries in the upper basin will increase to above bankfull by Thursday and then possibly reach flood stage late Friday,” according to the National Weather Service.
The flood watch does not include the town of Dolores.
Minor flooding is occurring along the Dolores River between Rico and Dolores. River banks are eroding and becoming unstable, the weather service said. Agricultural land near and along the Dolores River is flooding. A neighborhood along Road 37, about 12 miles northeast of Dolores, has experienced minor flooding.
Above-average snowpack, that has abnormally held into June, combined with a warming trend over the next few days contributed to issuance of the watch, said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Charnick.
The Dolores River just below Rico was running at 4.8 feet Wednesday, or 1,220 cubic feet per second. It is expected to reach 5.5 feet Friday, then 5.7 feet by Saturday. Flood stage for the gage below Rico is 5.8 feet.
On June 12, the snowpack in the upper Dolores Basin is recording at 8 inches of snow-water equivalent, or 1,400% of normal for the date.
The Rico weather forecast of warm weather in the low 70s and high 60s in the coming days will increase runoff.
“Snowpack has hung on later than normal, and over the next few days it will be nice weather with no clouds, leading to rapid melt-off,” Charnick said.
The flood watch is expected to end Sunday afternoon because of cooler weather and diminishing snowpack, he said.