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Warmer temps bring higher, more dangerous water levels

MTN's Russ Thomas provides safety tips as Montana rivers get flowing with warmer weather in the forecast
Posted at 5:39 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 21:32:56-04

MISSOULA — Western Montana rivers are running, fast, high, and they’re downright frigid.

“We’re just sitting in a time of year where our river is a dangerous place to be,” said Missoula Fire Department Captain, Charlene Bundy.

This is also a time of year where Mother Nature can bring us a pretty enticing forecast.

The forecast for our upcoming Thursday through Sunday is promising afternoon highs in the 80s and 90s. For most Montanans, the water is calling.

While Missoula Fire and Rescue Officials advise us not to be on the water, they also stress having a plan if you do.

“That plan should really include a life jacket at a minimum and have it on at all times that you are in the water," said Bundy. "Don’t go alone if you are boating or recreating, don’t go alone. Be confident you’re a strong swimmer if you’re going to be in the water.”

This is all just common-sense stuff, right?

Testing these fast, full, frigid waters would be crazy.Unfortunately, Captain Bundy says it happens regularly each and every year.

She says one of the biggest culprits are those things that you can’t see.

“We’ve been on the water and seen a lot of big logs and big limbs out there," said Bundy. "A lot of that is under the surface of the water. That really poses the most danger because sometimes you can’t avoid that until you’ve either been hit by it or you’re right up on top of it.”

She cautions those with pets to be especially aware of their whereabouts at all times.

If your pet is in trouble, the first instinct is often to go after them, which can lead to a worst-case scenario.

"Call 911 or have somebody close by call," said Bundy. "We are properly equipped to just make that attempts in a safe manner, and probably a lot more successfully.”

So, if the hot forecast ahead means a trip to the water, please take all necessary precautions for yourself, and those around you.