May 29th, 2019

hydrobear

Aero Bear

It was predicted that May would be the month for high flows in the Rio Grande. That was partially true. Things really started to get interesting at the beginning of the month as flows shot up with the advent of some warm weather. That was tempered, however, by a cold front. Then it warmed up again. Yay! Here it comes! Another cold front. Wash, rinse, repeat again. Actually, it was a blessing in disguise. instead of a massive peak (like in the Midwest) we have been having a slow, steady runoff. Some of our water gets brought into the basin via a tunnel from the other side of the Continental Divide. If the runoff comes to quickly, the tunnel maxes out and water gets "wasted" downstream. This year, just as the tunnel reached capacity, one of those cold spells slowed things down. We are at channel capacity below one of our dams, but that's no big deal. All of the other reservoirs are storing like they should. It helps when you start the year at historic low levels thanks to the previous year being one of the worst on record.

But since there was a threat of high water, a contract was issued for regular flights to monitor the river specially the levees. Since I'm in Water Ops, I was asked if I would like a seat on one of the flights. I said, "Sure!" So this morning I got a nice little 2-hour flight along the Rio Grande from ABQ up to Espanola. I took a bunch of pics but mostly of boring river features. I had the pilot detour up the Rio Chama where our main dams are. It's a beautiful area (pics are somewhere on LJ from a previous rafting trip), but flows were way down from their max a few weeks ago. It did give me a chance to see how those flows altered the river channel, however, so it was worthwhile. Maybe I'll post a pic or 2 tomorrow if any are scenic. I guess there are a few perks working for the gubbmint.