With the snowmelt season approaching, the Town of Vail is issuing its annual reminder to area property owners to review their current insurance policies and consider adding flood insurance to the coverage. As of April 23, Vail snowpack levels are at 65 percent of normal. However, please keep in mind flooding from snowmelt runoff generally can be attributed to quickly rising temperatures; fast sustained rising high temperatures can cause flooding whereas seasonal moderately rising temperatures generally do not. This was evident during the 2010 flood event, which had a 67 percent snowpack level on April 23 of that year. The 2010 cool May temperatures followed by an unseasonable hot first week of June caused flooding.
Spring runoff typically peaks between late-May and early-June in Vail. While the current snowpack is lower than normal, emergency managers caution that flood conditions can occur with sustained warm temperatures. A minimum 30-day waiting period may be required before a new flood policy comes into effect.
Floodplain maps are available at www.vailgov.com/maps. The maps indicate the approximate floodplain locations in Vail, and can be used as a reference for homeowners to determine whether their property is located near a floodplain area. Insurance rates are based on official Flood Insurance Rate Maps created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Copies of these maps are available for review at the Town of Vail Public Works Department, 1309 Elkhorn Drive, or may be ordered by calling 1-877-FEMA-MAP (336-2627) or available at http://msc.fema.gov. The Town of Vail is a member of the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP), which allows every property owner in Vail the option to purchase flood insurance, regardless of the property’s location.
Area streams most prone to flooding include: Black Gore Creek near The Heather; Gore Creek at the intersection of Bridge Road and Lupine Drive in East Vail; Mill Creek near Mill Creek Drive in Vail Village; Red Sandstone Creek near the Brooktree Condominiums; and Buffehr Creek from Circle Drive to the North Frontage Road in West Vail. As the weather warms, Public Works crews will begin daily water level checks at approximately 90 locations throughout the town, including culverts, catch basins and bridges. Nightly checks are added to the rounds once the peak runoff season hits.
Also, the town will provide free sand material and empty bags for residents and businesses who wish to safeguard their property from the possibility of high water. The material will be available at two locations beginning May 21: the parking lot near the I-70 interchange in East Vail and the North Trail parking lot in West Vail.
Homeowners interested in adding flood coverage to their insurance policies are encouraged to call their insurance agents to check availability. In addition, NFIP offers information on floods and flood insurance, including local agents who provide the coverage, online at www.floodsmart.gov. Residents are also reminded of the importance of being prepared for any emergency by assembling a kit containing a three-day food and water supply, as well as medications, toiletries, pet supplies, flashlight, radio and extra batteries. Visit www.ready.gov for more recommendations on personal emergency preparedness.
For more information on Vail’s flood maps, contact Tom Kassmel, Town of Vail floodplain administrator, at 970-479-2235. For county wide information, contact Barry Smith with Eagle County Emergency Management, at 970-328-3545.