Authorities remained on alert after about a third of the water in the pond at the top of the West Salt Creek landslide burst out early Friday morning, ripping a deep gorge down the middle of the 3-mile-long slide.
About 120 acre-feet of water rushed out of the pond about 2:30 a.m. after a snowstorm brewed up suddenly, according to authorities who sent out a plane at first light to survey the pond and assess any damages.
Jeff Coe, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who has studied the slide since it roared down Grand Mesa two years ago, planned to visit the area today.
The gorge ripped from the center of the slide was as much as 200 feet wide at the top and some 80 feet deep, authorities said.
As it happened, the timing for the break could hardly have been better.
The pulse of water from the so-called “sag pond” ran down West Salt Creek toward Plateau Creek and then into the Colorado River several days at least before Vega Reservoir was expected to top into its spillway into Plateau Creek, authorities said.
No shifting of the slide block accompanied the sudden rush of water, alleviating fears that a water release might trigger another landslide.
“This is what we were hoping for, in all honesty,” said Pete Baier, Mesa County’s deputy administrator for operations.
“This is the best-case scenario,” said Julie Constan, director of the county’s engineering division …
West Salt Creek Landslide monitoring moves to elevated alert level
PLATEAU VALLEY, CO – Due to increased activity with spring runoff in the area of the West Salt Creek Landslide, the Mesa County has initiated Response Level Two of the Emergency Preparedness Action Plan. The highest alert level is three.
At 4:45 a.m. the pond at the West Salt Creek Landslide released water.
At 5:45 a.m. a new drainage channel was cut in the mass of the Landslide.
As a result Mesa County has initiated Response Level Two which advises residents in the residents in the area to be prepared to leave.
Mesa County Sheriff Deputies are contacting people who live nearby in addition to reverse 911 notifications.
Road and Bridge equipment is being staged in Collbran as well as thousands of sand bags in the event flooding becomes an issue.
The initial water surge made it through the town of Collbran without overflowing the banks of Plateau Creek.
We do have reports of erosion on Salt Creek Road, a local county road.
As of 7:30 a.m. GPS monitoring has showed no land movement.
Right now the landslide is doing what we want and expect it to do. However if Mother Nature decides to take more land down, we want residents to be ready to evacuate.
That is why we are urging people to STAY OUT of the area.
We will provide video of the landslide.
We have a team currently flying over the area and will continue to monitor the conditions until all potential hazards are meditated.
RESIDENTS: STAND BY AND PREPARE TO LEAVE.
For further information and updates go to MCSO News