HAMILTON – So far, so good — that’s what emergency planners are saying as Western Montana continues to see a slow melt of the February’s record snows.
That’s especially true in the Bitterroot, where Ravalli County authorities have been worried about flooding ever since the valley was buried in one of the heaviest snows in years.
Ravalli County received some of the heaviest, latest snow to fall this winter, as parts of the Bitterroot received 2-to-3 feet of snow.
That brought immediate concern because of the valley’s tendency to see warmer temperatures, and rain, this late in the season.
A couple of weeks ago, we showed you how places like Mill Creek were completely filled with snow, bank-to-bank.
Today, there’s still a lot of snow in those smaller stream beds. But more water is flowing, and beginning to break to the surface. Fortunately, it’s staying in the banks, thanks to the weather.
“I’ve been pretty happy with the forecast that we’ve had and what we’re looking at for the week down the road,” Ravalli County Emergency Director Eric Hoover said.
“We’ve gotten some good melting of the snow accumulations and have seen very little problems come up.”
In fact, the trouble spots we’ve seen in the past with these conditions, are actually showing little sign of high water yet.
The big ice jam that had formed on the Bitterroot River upstream from Veteran’s Bridge has even given way, although authorities warn people to stay away from stream and riverbanks because of the uncertain snow cover and ice.
“Larger ones you’re seeing some water start flowing under, which is good. But we’re not seeing any real raising of the levels,” Hoover said.
“And we’re just going to keep monitoring the melt. We’re looking at about the same weather pattern over the next five-to-seven days.”
Authorities are primarily watching the snowmelt here on the floor of the valley, they’re also watching those higher elevations.
Although there’s not as much worry as last year because the snowpack is running about average.
“We’re looking to be right on average. We’ll be monitoring that as the melt off goes and hope we get some good melt off and filling for the lakes and reservoirs,” Hoover said.
He told MTN News that the county has staged sand, and sandbags at area fire stations and he advises people to remain prepared for whatever might happen…
“We’ve had a lot of good response from folks preparing their properties, picking up sand and sandbags and that’s always really encouraging to see,” Hoover said.
Hoover advises people to visit the county website and sign up for emergency alerts if they haven’t already done so, to keep up-to-date on changing conditions.