Rain and Snowmelt Could Cause Flooding in the Bitterroot Valley
Flooding has not been a huge concern for western Montana so far this season, but the Missoula National Weather Service says that could change if more rain falls in the valley. Meteorologist Bruce Bauck says when rain mixes in with snowmelt, it can cause significant flooding in some areas.
“It is like adding grease to ball bearings,” Bauck said. “It allows the whole system to allow the water to flow better through it. When the rain is falling, you get this more efficient movement of water through the snow, down the hill sides, and down the sides of the road. Rain just creates better paths for the water to move out and then you get more run off and flooding.”
Snow levels have already lowered quite a bit and we are actually starting to see more snow than rain in a lot of the valleys in western Montana. According to Bauck, Anaconda and the Bitterroot Valley are some of their main concern areas, but things have looked pretty good so far.
“Starting this weekend, the Bitterroot Valley might actually start to melt enough that they don’t have enough snow to cause flooding,” Bauck said. “We will have to see how that goes. Anaconda has more snow and it really hasn’t melted a lot there yet. We will have to watch that in the future. Through Friday and into Saturday, I don’t think we will have any problems of significance because the snow should come off fairly orderly and the temperatures should be fairly cold.”
The National Weather Service says folks should prepare for ponding on roads and flooding in basements and crawl spaces.