In September 2013, it began to rain in Colorado. And it didn’t stop. Northwest of Fort Collins, the North Fork of the Cache La Poudre River soon carried record amounts of water. In just a few days, flows leapt from three cubic feet per second (cfs) to more than 1000 cfs when the upstream dam could not hold any more water and began to spill over.

Lateral erosion of banks is a defining characteristic to any braided stream like the Platte. As water moves downstream, banks are transformed as water tends to spread out over the broad, shallow valley of the Platte River. Over the course of a year, our camera unexpectedly observed this happening at a camera location owned and managed by the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.

In recent years, the river has formed an S-shaped route a short distance upstream from the measurement weir and has caused the riverbanks near the gauging station to erode, threatening to bypass the weir itself.