Arkansas River continues to rise, could reach 5,000 CFS soon

Video Water flow continues to rise on Arkansas River in Fremont County

Canon City, Colo.- - Large amounts of snowpack in the high country of Colorado is starting to make its presence known here in the southern part of the state, especially along the Arkansas River.

In Fremont County, the water levels are high and are flowing fast, creating white peaks and rapids even in Canon City. Experts believe this could just be the start. 

On Monday, the water flows on the Arkansas River hit more than 4,000 cubic feet per second (CFS).

"To kind of explain what that is, a cubic foot is somewhat similar to the size of a basketball," said Will Colon the owner of Raft Masters in Canon City. "So if you can imagine a line across the River, and 4,000 basketballs passing that in one second that would give you roughly the volume of what we are seeing here today."

Experts say the water flow is projected to be as high as 5,000 CFS by the end of the week. The record is 5,800 in the Arkansas River at the testing site near Canon City. At one point last year, the river was around 100 CFS near Canon City. 

For now, the sound of the river is unmistakable. At Centennial Park near downtown Canon City, the Arkansas roars as water rushes downriver. The strong river flow also brings out the spectators with their cameras out. 

However, safety experts say people need to make sure you've got the right gear if you plan on spending a long period of time near the river.

"The river will spit you through Canon City real quick," said Mykel Kroll, the Fremont County Emergency Manager. "At these levels, you really don't need to be in the water. If you are, be prepared. Have a wetsuit, dry suit, helmet, and life jacket."

Debris can be seen flowing down the river as well, with large pieces of tree and even debris from homes impacted by recent fires or burn scar flooding.

A group was seen at the Arkansas River near Centennial training for rescue scenarios. It was another reminder of the river's strength.

So far this season, business is booming for 'Raft Master' owner Will Colon and other whitewater rafting companies, thanks in part to the high water levels. However, when the water is this high and this fast, they will make adjustments. 

"If a family comes and buys a class 2, class 3 whitewater experience, and the river goes up to a class 4 in the section we normally put them on, we can easily move them to another section and still get that experience they are looking for," said Colon. "That's a safety precaution."

When the Arkansas River gets above 3,200 CFS, Colon says it's wise to steer clear from the portion of the Arkansas River below the bridge due to the dangerous water flow.

Chris Moffett, event coordinator for the Royal Gorge White Water Festival says that the event will go in as scheduled June 21st and 22nd, however, some activities may be adjusted or modified due to the water conditions. 

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