Flooding Near Ojo Caliente Due To Heavy Spring Runoff

The Rio Ojo Caliente is overflowing its banks and covering neighboring fields. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Flooding Near Ojo Caliente Due To Heavy Spring Runoff 

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The combination of above-average spring temperatures and above-average snowfall this past winter is melting the snowpack rapidly, leading to concerns about flooding along the Rio Ojo Caliente. Rio Arriba County Fire and Rescue distributed sandbags to some local residents as the river jumped its banks, threatening homes and flooding fields along the river below the town of Ojo Caliente.

The Rio Ojo Caliente was flowing a 736 cubic-feet-per-second April 21, below the peak flow of over 1,000 cubic-feet-per second the day before (April 20). Normal flow for April 21 is 361 cubic-feet-per-second. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning April 21 for the river below La Madera through the weekend until April 25. The river is level is forecast to fluctuate near flood stage before peaking at 7 feet by Tuesday (4/25). The forecast is for minor flooding, including farm and pasture land. The heavy flows may cause severe damage to irrigation channels and gates.

Streamflows throughout Northern New Mexico are running well above average. The Rio Chama near La Puente was running at 2,640 cubic-feet-per second, over twice the average of 1,060 cubic-feet-per second. The Rio Grande at Embudo was flowing at 2,180 cubic-feet-per second, again over twice the average of 1,080 cubic-feet-per-second.