Officials prepare for flooding over Memorial Day weekend

Posted at 4:27 PM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 18:27:39-04

HAMILTON – While the Clark Fork continues to recede from major flood stage, officials remain concerned over the Bitterroot River.

"That river looks like it will continue to climb as we get snow melt coming out at a pretty slow rate but its just continuing and continuing," National Weather Service Hydrologist Ray Nickless said.  "And the Bitterroot river will continue to climb and we are expecting it to peak sometime by Monday or Tuesday time frame of this week and that will be in the 12.5 to 13 foot range."

The National Weather Service has been aware of that situation and is able to warn residents in the area with plenty of time.

Authorities are also concerned about flash flooding in the Lolo Peak burn scar area along the Highway 12 corridor.

“That’s going to be a concern throughout the entire summer, when we get into these high intense thunderstorms that can produce rainfall in a quick time frame and you get .5 an inch to an inch of rain up there, in a real short time frame we can have debris flows or flash floods come out of those hills.," Nickless said.

Those debris flows or landslides can pop up in an instant which gives minimal time for warning.

The National Weather Service advises that people in those regions be prepared at all times.

“A warning would probably go out half-an-hour before that would happen but it’s going to be quick deal. The best thing if you’re a resident there is just to be prepared for it now,” Nickless said.

Being prepared for high-water conditions seems to be a common theme for everyone this memorial day weekend.

"Our message, really, today is for as people are out enjoying their holiday weekend to really pay attention to conditions," said Office of Emergency Management Director Adriane Beck. "If you’re out in the woods on Forest Service roads, Forest Service trails or recreating in any way shape or form. When those thunder cells come through and are capable of producing lots of water, lots of different things can happen, so just asking people to pay attention to those kind of things."