Missoula Rains Bring Minor River Flooding and Heavy Stream Flow
National Weather Service Meteorologist Leeann Allegretto told KGVO News early Monday morning that recent and coming rains will cause more problems with small streams and creeks than with the major tributaries like the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers.
Allegretto provided current numbers as of early Monday morning.
“We got six tenths of an inch here in Missoula so far and then one and a half to two inches in central Idaho, but it's not done,” said Allegretto. “That's the point. This is part two, if you will. So today into Tuesday, we've got the wraparound moisture associated with the low and it should mostly affect northwest Montana, especially with the lowering snow levels. So we have a winter storm warning issued for 5,000 feet and higher along the divide, including Glacier Park and nearby areas but we could see snow down to 4,500 feet.”
Even though river levels are currently rising, Allegretto expects them to begin to recede over the next few days, a good sign for residents in the Tower Street and Kehrwald Drive area.
“Down here in the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys, we are still expecting rain to continue,” she said. “Our rivers are taking a break currently from rising but they are expected to continue to rise for the next 48 hours or so with the additional rainfall coming in today and tomorrow. We're not going to get cold enough to see snow but it will be enough of a cool down to slow runoff. We do expect water levels to slowly recede through midweek into the latter part of the week.”
Allegretto said the rivers are currently near flood stage.
“So the Clark Fork above Missoula is at flood stage and the Bitterroot River at Missoula is also at flood above or minor flood stage,” she said. “They're at 11.38 feet as of this hour so that is technically flood stage but we haven't heard of any major impacts yet due to the flooding.”
Allegretto, like the Missoula Fire department from a KGVO story last week, said the real danger right now is area streams and creeks that are flooding their banks.
“I think the more noticeable situations are in the smaller streams and creeks because they're reaching bank full or they're out of their banks,” she said. “And of course, those are the ones that we see more often because there's a lot more of them than the main stem rivers. So just be safe, and stay away from the banks. Stay away from the water's edge. The soil around the banks is very loose from how saturated everything has become. So it's still dangerous out there if you're not smart about it.”
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