Northwestern Montana Flooding Predicted as Temperatures Rise

May 13, 2008

Some northwestern Montana rivers and streams are likely to flood by next weekend as temperatures rise and part of the mountain snowpack melts, the National Weather Service says.

Emergency-services workers met May 9 in Kalispell to plan their response.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures will rise into the 70s or 80s late this week.

Forecasts indicate that several rivers in the northwestern area of Montana will approach or exceed flood stage by May 18. The rivers include the Yaak, the Fisher, the main Flathead and the Middle Fork of the Flathead.

The Fisher River rose to within one-half foot of flood stage during the week of May 5.

The Middle Fork of the Flathead is likely to reach its flood stage of 10 feet at West Glacier, and the main Flathead River is predicted to reach its flood stage of 14 feet at Columbia Falls, according to the weather service. The Whitefish and Stillwater rivers likely will meet or surpass flood stage, as well, the agency said.

Forecasts will be refined during the week, hydrologist Ray Nickless said.

“These things can change quite a bit as you get closer to your event,” Nickless said.

The emergency-services workers discussed the importance of identifying elderly or disabled residents who may be homebound in flood-prone areas. The group also discussed evacuation, shelters, road closures and water contamination that may occur when flooding affects septic systems.

Arrangements to obtain sandbags and sand have been made. Additional sand is available from the county supply used in winter road maintenance.

Information from: Daily Inter Lake,

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