JEMEZ SPRINGS (KRQE) – The Jemez River is running much higher, and much stronger, than usual right now. The Board of County Commissioners issued an Emergency-Diaster Declaration to label Sandoval County an emergency area.

The warm weather is melting a healthy snowpack, triggering flood concerns in the Jemez. News 13 looked into the situation on the ground and from the air.

“I don’t remember ever seeing it this high,” said Diane Jouppi, who was visiting Jemez Springs from Albuquerque. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Jemez River is now seven feet high—that’s two feet higher and six times the volume flowing in a measured location just a week ago.

The effects of this barrage are already becoming apparent. “It was very surprising. We thought that we could walk down to the creek, but you actually can’t get to the creek right now because the water is so far back. I would say like almost a hundred feet back from the creek,” Jouppi explained.

Felix Nunez, police chief of the Jemez Springs Police Department, said this snowpack runoff is causing record washouts of the riverbanks. They’re preparing to get sandbags in Jemez Springs as a precaution. As of Wednesday afternoon, New Mexico State Police shut down Highway 4 in San Ysidro as the water reached the road.

“We’ve seen the break in the banks up to all the way the highway, so we’re talking a hundred yards that the banks have been broken in some areas where it’s coming up to the road, and it’s forcing us to close certain day camp areas and overnight camp areas up and down the river,” Nunez said.

There is a flood warning in effect around Jemez Springs, and the chief said first responders are monitoring the river as it rushed by.

Officials told News 13 that one of their major concerns is whether the bridges can withstand the impact.

“We could watch a big log go down there right now and take out the whole bridge! But if you notice, if you see there’s a lot of debris buildup underneath the bridges now, so that’s an impact of weight, wet weight, and debris and especially the water pressure hitting it,” Nunez stated. He’s urging anyone in the area to avoid going in or even near the water. “People don’t realize you have the bank up here, but the river’s washing out underneath the bank, so it can take only a stepping on where you think it’s safe, and that’ll just break right down and put you in the water. You’d be swept away.”

There’s no way of knowing when the flow will ebb: “We are about partway, what I understand [is] they briefed me, we are about halfway right now. So, it hasn’t really changed in the last couple of days, but as this proceeds, the weather starts warming up, it does mean the snow caps are gonna melt a lot more faster,” Nunez stated.