The Bitterroot River has edged ever closer to flood stage. Thursday afternoon, the USGS gauge at Bell Crossing was at 10.17 feet at about 4 p.m. and earlier in the day had been at 10.26. Flood stage is 11 feet. Forecasters are now expecting that level by Sunday, May 27.

At the south end of the valley, the Conner USGS gauge showed a 7.13 foot level at 4:15 Thursday. It is still on track to surpass the 7.5 foot flood stage Friday, May 25. There is an increase in lowland flooding. Add to that, the prediction of a possible severe thunderstorm Friday evening may increase the danger of flash floods. Those surges would probably not affect the Bitterroot River, but could come rapidly on the small streams, especially in burned areas like the Lolo Peak Fire.

Again, be aware of road conditions and if you come across a water-covered section, Turn Around - Don't Drown. Report any flooded roadways to the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office at 363-3033. Sandbags and sand can be found at the northeast corner of the Ravalli County Fairgrounds and at Victor, Corvallis, Stevensville and Florence fire halls in the north end of the valley.