Bitterroot rivers and streams full, but no emergencies yet

Posted at 9:22 AM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 11:22:45-04

HAMILTON - Rivers and streams are bank full in the Bitterroot after heavy weekend rains.

As yet, there are no major flooding problems, but authorities are watching the weather closely.

There's not much capacity left in the rivers and streams in the Bitterroot, already swollen by last week's snow melt during the recent warm weather, followed by very heavy rains over the weekend.

"Over the weekend we saw the highest levels of water in Ravalli County that we've seen throughout the season," Ravalli County Emergency Management Director Eric Hoover told MTN News.

"Certainly the Bitterroot River, you know, hit the highest water level and flows as well as a lot of the side streams, particularly on the west side," Hoover continued. "Got a lot of water coming off the mountains."

And it's not just the rain. Lake Como north of Darby was "winter coat cold" Monday, with strong winds roaring down off the Bitterroot Front, where the peaks received more snow over the weekend, with more expected into Tuesday.

"We've still got a significant amount of snowpack for this time of year," Hoover noted. "Not anything out of the ordinary, if you look at the whole season, you know, season long. We're kind of in an average year, but we're just a couple weeks behind," Hoover explained.

"So we're seeing a lot of that come off now, especially with the rain that we've received over the past week," he continued.

The good news is, that the weather is doing wonders for the water supply after a mediocre end to winter, making up for lost time.

But for now, runoff remains strong and is expected to stay that way. Hoover isn't worried about rain the rest of the week, but there are 80º temperatures in the forecast.

In addition to watching for a spike in temperatures later on this week, Hoover says the county is also warning people to be very careful recreating around rivers and streams this coming weekend.

"Certainly try to stay away from any of the hazardous areas with high water and keep your kids and pets away from that as well. We don't want to see anybody get hurt, you know, recreating or trying to rescue somebody else. You know, stay out of any water that's crossing roadways or or bridges that may be getting overtopped."

Hoover says if you're new to the valley and live close to a stream, check with your neighbors on what to expect.