Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis

Colorado State University 
B-258 Clark Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1784 

Spring Snowmelt Flood Potential Outlook North Central & Northeast Colorado

The National Weather Service, Boulder, CO

The chance of flooding from snowmelt this spring is elevated. The potential for minor flooding this spring is moderate to high in the higher terrain of the South Platte Basin, and moderate in the headwaters of the Upper Colorado and North Platte Rivers.

Additional spring snowmelt runoff concerns in areas severely impacted by September 2013 floods

  • Residents in areas where stream channels have moved or significant debris and sedimentation has occurred (particularly in the Front Range foothills in Boulder, Larimer, and northern Jefferson Counties) should be prepared for localized spring snowmelt flooding.

  • A small amount of water could start moving large quantities of sediment in affected streams. Debris flows may obstruct stream channels and cause flood issues. The September 2013 rains likely destabilized hillsides and steep slopes so increased landslides and rock slides will also be possible this spring particularly with heavier or prolonged rainfall.

  • More significant flooding will likely occur this spring if rain falls on the snow, rapid warming occurs and of course there is more snow between now and the melt.

  • The early March snowpack in the mountains of the Big Thompson River and St Vrain Creek drainages is right up there with the highest snowpack years (in the past 35 years) of 1986, 1996, 1997, and 2011. How fast the snow melts and when, rainfall timing and amounts will also be very important. For example, in the spring of 2011 there were concerns due to the high snowpack, but the snow melted out in an orderly fashion without major issues.

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Somewhere in the world, a disaster occurs each day. Sometimes the impacts are felt locally, such as the recent wildfires near Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, Colorado, that destroyed 605 homes. Other times, the event reaches across state and national boundaries, such as Hurricane Sandy along the east coast, and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Globally, the number of natural disasters has increased fourfold during the past three decades—from about 120 per year during the 1980s to roughly 500 per year now.  These disasters, which claim tens of thousands of lives each year, exert a disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable individuals.

At the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis (CDRA) at Colorado State University, we engage in interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach activities for the primary purpose of reducing human vulnerability to disasters and increasing individual and community capacity to prepare for and recover from hazard events.

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SHOREline Recruitment Video

Are you a high school student during the 2013-2014 academic year? Do you see challenges in your community that young people could address if they had the chance? Would you like to make a difference and meet new people from across the Gulf Coast and beyond? If you answered "Yes!" and you attend one of the following five high schools in the Gulf Coast areas, get an application at today. Grand Isle School, LA; Benjamin Franklin High School, LA; South LaFourche High School, LA; Gulfport High School, MS; and Bryant High School, AL.

Youth Creating Disaster Recovery

Brett Blair is a master's student in intercultural and international communication at Royal Roads University. Through a compelling video piece, Brett showcases the work of SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship-funded colleague Robin Cox, who studies youth empowerment as part of disaster recovery. Emphasizing the research's model of participatory, creative engagement, Blair's video also explores the increasingly-vocal youth demographic and its impact on shaping disaster policy and practice.

Gulf Oil Spill Research Goes Mobile with AT&T

August 23, 2012 - Following disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health deploys a field team to collect research on the health, social and economic impacts on people who live within disaster zones. Under an agreement with AT&T, the NCDP uses the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 on AT&T's network to conduct surveys in the field and instantly share feedback with their team in New York.

For more information, please visit:

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Dispersant Experiment

July 28, 2012 - The BP oil spill made international headlines two summers ago as images of stained beaches and oil-soaked pelicans portrayed what might have been the nation’s greatest ecological disaster.  Along with their massive PR efforts, British Petroleum had another method of keeping the spill from sinking their business – the chemical dispersant Corexit.  In the months following the spill, over two million gallons were sprayed and injected into the Gulf of Mexico and so began the great experiment…

After six months of filming in the Gulf in 2010, our first project, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Dispersant Experiment” draws from local residents, a variety of experts, and an in-depth lab experiment to exposes the truth about BP’s cleanup in the Gulf.

Please help share our piece as we aim to spread this truth and combat the multi-million dollar PR campaign that claims all is well.  As legal battles continue to play out, it is not too late to bring justice to the people of the Gulf.

NEED TO KNOW: Preserving memories after Sandy

The Brooklyn-based nonprofit "Care for Sandy" has emerged as one of the critical grassroots groups helping residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy save some of their most cherished memories. For more:




Please note that our web site is a work in progress. We encourage you to visit the site regularly for updated information.

CDRA Faculty Affiliate, Professor Melinda Laituri, named Jefferson Science Fellow

March 20, 2014

Colorado State University professor and researcher Melinda Laituri has been selected as a 2014 Jefferson Science Fellow. In this position, Laituri will serve as a science advisor for U.S. foreign policy to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) program was established in 2003 to strengthen the engagement of American academic science, technology, engineering (STE) and medical communities in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. Laituri will begin her one-year term in August 2014 and will work on water-related policy issues that include the University WASH Consortium, water data integration efforts, and gender issues related to access to water.

Contributing to foreign policy

“STE issues are recognized as essential elements of good governance and creating effective international relationships,” said Laituri. “I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute my experience in watershed science, and natural resources research and education to important foreign policy issues facing the nation.”

Laituri is a professor of geography in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. She has taught at CSU for 19 years, and teaches courses such as sustainable watersheds, watershed science, geographic information systems and geography of hazards. She is also a professor in an interdisciplinary natural resources immersion field course that teaches ecological field measurements at CSU’s mountain campus, Pingree Park, each summer.

'Unique ability'

Laituri teaches a class at CSU's mountain campus, Pingree Park.

“We are very proud of Dr. Laituri’s many contributions to science, policy and education and her unique ability to integrate the multiple facets of natural resource management, nationally and globally,” said Joyce Berry, Dean of CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources.

In addition to her teaching, Laituri is also director of CSU’s Geospatial Centroid, a center that promotes GIS activities, education and outreach at CSU and in Colorado. She is a scholar at CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES), and she is the lead project investigator for the SoGES Global Challenges Research Team Headwaters Initiative.

Fulbright Scholar

As a Fulbright Scholar, she was at the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Scientific Innovation at the University of Botswana. She is also a Rachel Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich where she contributes to geospatial applications in environmental history.

Laituri received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona, and her dissertation research focused on environmental equity and groundwater resources in the American Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico border. She also holds a master’s degree in hydrology from California State University and a bachelor’s in geography from University of California, Berkeley.

Fourth to receive honor

Laituri is the fourth CSU faculty member to receive this honor, continuing the University’s strong legacy in the JSF program. Past CSU Jefferson Science Fellows include: Marvin Paule, Department of Biochemistry (2007), Rajiv Khosla, Department of Soil and Crop Science (2012) and Mo Salman, Department of Clinical Sciences (2013).

Jefferson Science Fellows

The Jefferson Science Fellows program is administered by the National Academies and supported through a partnership between the U.S. academic community, professional scientific societies, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It is open to tenured or similarly ranked faculty from U.S. institutions of higher learning who are U.S. citizens. Selected Jefferson Science Fellows spend one year on assignment at the U.S. Department of State or USAID as science advisors on foreign policy issues. Assignments are tailored to the needs of the hosting office, while taking into account the Fellows’ interests and areas of expertise. As part of their assignments, Jefferson Fellows also have the opportunity to travel to U.S. embassies and missions overseas. At the conclusion of the fellowship year, and upon return to their home institution, Fellows continue to serve as a resource to the State Department and USAID for five years.

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