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 11, Vail snowpack levels are at 97 percent of normal, while Copper Mountain, which is indicative of the Vail Pass area, is at 136 percent of normal. Gore Creek has seen the beginning of increased stream flows due to warmer temperatures in the past couple of weeks and are about normal for this time of year.
Spring runoff typically peaks between late-May and mid-June in Vail. Considering the normal snowpack levels, flood conditions can occur at any time, especially when there are sustained cool temperatures, which hold the snowpack, followed by sudden sustained warm temperatures. A minimum 30-day waiting period may be required before a new flood policy comes into effect.
An interactive map identifying the locations of sand distribution points, high-water checkpoints, historic flood areas, FEMA NFHL data, and more can be accessed from the Town of Vail Flood Preparedness site. 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 msc.fema.gov. The Town of Vail is a member of the National Flood Insurance Plan, 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 and 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, Police and 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. Town staff also coordinate with Eagle River Water & Sanitation District personnel who check manholes and vaults that are located near waterways, as well as mains that cross above creeks.
Also, the town will provide free sand material and empty bags upon request for residents and businesses who wish to safeguard their property from the possibility of high water. Call the Public Works Department at 970-479-2158 to make arrangements.
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 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 ready.gov for more recommendations on personal emergency preparedness. To receive real-time public alerts for emergencies in Vail or Eagle County, sign up at ecalert.org.
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 Birch Barron with Eagle County Emergency Management, at 970-471-0640.