Summit County Swift-Water Safety & Flood Preparedness Guide

Summit County and local towns have developed this year’s Summit County Swift-Water Safety and Flood Preparedness Guide to inform the community about the potential impacts of high water in late spring and early summer, as well as how to prepare for them. Your local government agencies have prepared a plan of action in anticipation of possible flooding. But there are important steps that individuals, families and businesses must take to ensure that they too are prepared.

Summit County typically experiences the most significant effects of snowmelt during late May and early June, driven by warm temperatures and precipitation. But accurately predicting spring weather in alpine environments is nearly impossible, so it’s difficult to know exactly when we’ll see peak flows in Summit County's rivers. High flows are most likely during stretches of four or more days with nighttime low temperatures above freezing. Climate change and the effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic make us more vulnerable to flooding. With warmer average spring temperatures, fewer trees to absorb the water, and no tree canopy to protect the snowpack from sun in many areas, snowmelt may occur at an accelerated rate.

Local and state officials have been monitoring flows in all waterways and are prepared to respond to flooding. During April, May and June, public works departments across the county are busy removing debris and obstructions in waterways and culverts. Public works departments have also set up sandbag stations throughout the county for use by residents, businesses and property owners. In the case of a significant flooding event anywhere in Summit County, we will establish a fire-rescue and law-enforcement incident command to respond to and manage the event.

Review the sections below to find information that will help you prepare for flooding. We also encourage you to contact your local planning department or visit www.floodsmart.gov to find Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that can assist you in locating your property and evaluating its risk of flooding and your requirements for flood insurance. For additional personal preparedness information, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website at www.ready.gov/floods or the Summit County Emergency Management website at www.SummitCountyCo.gov/EmergencyManagement.

On behalf of Summit County and the towns of Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco, Blue River and Silverthorne, thank you for your diligence and cooperation.

Flood Preparedness Contacts

Summit County 970-668-3590 www.summitcountyco.gov
Town of Blue River  970-547-0545 www.townofblueriver.colorado.gov
Town of Breckenridge 970-453-2251 www.townofbreckenridge.com
Town of Dillon 970-468-2403 www.townofdillon.com
Town of Frisco 970-668-5276 www.friscogov.com
Town of Silverthorne 970-262-7300 www.silverthorne.org
History of High Water Events in Summit County
Peak Flows and Historic Maximum Peak Flows
An understanding of average peak flows and historic maximum peak flows in our rivers and streams can be helpful in assessing the level of risk associated with current conditions. The timing, rate and duration of peak flows are influenced by a variety of factors, including snowpack, spring weather and the effects of climate change. Reservoir managers must account for these variables in their work to store water and meet the water demands of their service areas.

In the table below, you’ll find stream gage information for each local river basin, measured in cubic feet per second (cfs), provided by the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Gage links will direct you to the USGS website, where you can view current flows.


To sign up for high-flow alerts from stream gages via email or mobile phone, visit https://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/wateralert. To view historic flow data and current-year forecasts for rivers and streams in the Colorado River Basin not listed above, visit https://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/rmap/peak/peaklist.php.

River Basin Stream Segment Years of Record Historic Peak Flow Average Peak Flow USGS Gage
Upper Blue Basin Blue River below Goose Pasture Tarn 37 681 cfs (June 18, 1995) 234 cfs BLUABLCO
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis.uv?09046490
Upper Blue 
Basin
Blue River below confluence with Swan River 63 1,390 cfs (June 18, 1995) 525 cfs BLUNDICO 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09046600
  Straight Creek 34 416 cfs (June 17, 1995) 146 cfs STRABLCO 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09051050
Lower Blue 
Basin
Blue River below 
Dillon Reservoir
58 2,010 cfs (May 25, 1984)  1,162 cfs BLUDILCO 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09050700
  Blue River below 
Green Mountain
Reservoir
78 4,040 cfs (July 12, 1995) 1,878 cfs BLUGRECO 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09057500
Snake River 
Basin
Keystone Gulch  63 311 cfs (June 17, 1995) 51 cfs KEYGUDCO 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09047700
  Snake River below 
confluence with 
North Fork Snake
73 1,250 cfs (June 10, 1952) 546 cfs SNAMONCO 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09047500
Tenmile 
Creek Basin
Tenmile Creek below 
North Tenmile Creek
63 1,910 cfs (June 16, 1965)  943 cfs TENFRICO 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09050100
Public Works Flooding Action Plan
Primary Responsibilities of Public Works Staff
Public works staff in each jurisdiction are tasked with protecting and maintaining public infrastructure during the spring runoff season. They may also provide some assistance to residents and property owners, but it’s important to keep in mind that property owners are responsible for protecting and maintaining their own private property.

Public Works Staff Responsibilities
  • Monitoring rivers and streams in the county
  • Removing debris that might impede the flow of water in creeks and culverts under public rights-of-way
  • Evaluating anticipated flood threats and levels of flooding and determining needs
  • Providing up-to-date estimates about flooding potential and anticipated areas of flooding
  • Establishing priorities for essential facilities, access roads, bridge structures and culverts
  • Providing empty sandbags that local residents and businesses can fill at sand piles throughout the county
  • Patrolling lakes after floods for floating debris that may be a hazard to boaters
Public Works Contact Information
After-Hours Contact Information
Outside of regular business hours, call the Summit County 911 Center’s non-emergency line at 970-668-8600.

**In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1**
Law Enforcement Flooding Action Plan
Law Enforcement Priorities

In the event of a flooding situation, local police departments and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office have the following duties:

  • Protect life, health and well-being of the community
  • Minimize the threat to people and property in response to flooding
  • Continue to provide essential law enforcement services.

Law Enforcement Priorities

  • Evaluate threat level
    • 24-hour stream watch during peak runoff period
    • Communicate with affected agencies
    • Obtain hydrologic information from relevant sources
  • Identify affected areas
    • Evaluate life-threatening potential
    • Evaluate need to evacuate
      • Shelter
      • Special needs populations
      • Food and water
      • Temporary housing
      • Sanitation facilities
    • Secure affected areas
      • Traffic
      • Crowds
    • Establish and secure access to affected areas
  • Warn and advise the population
    • Media
    • Summit County Alert
  • Direct use of personnel and other resources
    • Logistics
    • Incident Command
    • Emergency Operations Center
    • Communications system
    • Assistance from local agencies
    • Assistance from state agencies
  • Secure property impacted by flooding
    • Public property: local government infrastructure
    • Private property: prevent looting
  • Continue to provide essential law enforcement services
    • Prioritize response to requests for service
    • Additional personnel and other resources from local agencies
  • Develop re-entry plan for affected areas
Flood Preparedness for Residents and Property Owners
What if I have a private well?
Private well owners should verify their wells are constructed and maintained to prevent them from being contaminated during a flood. Key strategies include ensuring the well casing and cap extend at least 12 inches above the ground and fitting the cap snugly on top of the casing. If a well is flooded, do not drink the water until it is tested for potability.

Summit County Environmental Health can test your well water for bacteria.

For more private-well tips, visit http://wellowner.org/flooding-resources/.
How can I prepare my property for a flood?
Making preparations in advance of a flooding event can make a big difference if an emergency strikes. All Summit County residents should take the following actions prior to an incident:

  • Prepare an evacuation plan from your home to a safe area.
  • Purchase flood insurance, if desired.
  • Make a list of personal property to help with insurance claims.
  • Choose a relative or close friend out of the area as a contact person for family members and friends.
  • Prepare an emergency kit:
    • Flashlight with batteries
    • Non-perishable foods
    • Bottled water
    • First aid kit.
  • Determine who will be responsible for important documents, clothing, food, pets, babies, etc.
  • Once you formulate your plan, rehearse it! 
For more information on flood preparedness, visit Ready.gov at https://www.ready.gov/floods
What to Do During a Flood Emergency
What should I do in a flood emergency?
In the event of a flood emergency, residents and property owners should take action to protect life safety and property:

  • Organize your homeowner's association, neighbors and friends to assist with filling and placing of sandbags.
  • Cooperate with law enforcement, public works and other emergency personnel.
  • Volunteer your time and energy to assist in efforts to protect public facilities and private property.
Flooding and Swift-Water Safety Tips
Keeping Up On the Weather
  • Stay informed about current weather conditions and weather forecasts. During runoff season, stream flows tend to be especially high during extended periods of warm weather and during rain events.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or local media sources for vital weather info.
Staying Safe on Foot and While Recreating
  • Keep children and pets away from fastmoving streams, high water, storm drains, culverts and ditches. Hidden dangers could lurk beneath the water’s surface.
  • Do not attempt to cross swift water on foot. Even six inches of flowing water can knock you off your feet.
  • Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches and washes. If flooding occurs, get to higher ground.
  • When boating on lakes or reservoirs, watch out for logs and floating debris that has been dumped into the water by fast-moving rivers and streams.
  • When recreating in or around the water, use the proper size and type of personal floatation device (PFD, or life jacket).
  • When boating on rivers and streams, watch out for logs, trees and other debris that have become lodged in the river where they can block passage of you or your boat.
  • Fishermen should wear wading belts to prevent water from entering waders during a fall.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
Staying Safe While Driving
  • Never attempt to drive through high water. Two feet of water can carry away most cars.
  • Do not drive around barricades. They are there for your safety.
  • If your car stalls in rapidly rising or moving water, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • Never drive through flooded roadways. Road beds may be eroded or washed out under the surface of flood waters.
Addressing Utility-Related Concerns
  • Stay away from ground-level transformers that are inundated by flood waters.
  • If your basement is flooded, try to turn off the electric power to the house at the outside electrical panel. If the electrical panel is in the flooded area, do not go near the panel.
  • If you have natural gas or propane fired appliances, try to turn off the supply to the house at the meter or at the tank.
Flood Preparedness and Swift-Water Safety Resources
Stream Flows and Weather Conditions
Other Resources
FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has identified more than 1,000 properties in Summit County as being located in a regulatory floodplain. This designation has important implications related to potential flood hazards, flood insurance requirements, flood insurance rates, property sales and obtaining mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders.

Visit fdsa to find FEMA’s current digital flood hazard maps for Summit County, which display special flood hazard areas (SFHAs).

Summit County and local town governments have flood insurance rate maps available for review and can answer general questions from the public. However, lending institutions (not local governments) determine whether flood insurance will be required for a given property and the related liability potential.

For assistance in determining whether your property is in an SFHA, contact the jurisdiction in which your property is located.

Jurisdiction Contact Phone Email
Breckenridge Shannon Smith 970-453-3196 [email protected]
Dillon Dan Burroughs 970-468-2403 [email protected]
Frisco Bill Gibson 970-668-5276 [email protected]
Silverthorne Susan Pearson 970-262-7354 [email protected]
Summit County Robert Jacobs 970-668-4212 [email protected]
Blue River Michelle Eddy 970-547-0545 [email protected]


FloodInsurance