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Snowpack Way Above Normal, Rain and Snow Will Bring Flooding

Montana Snow pakc
Photo courtesy of Corby Dickerson, National Weather Service

Yesterday, March 5, members of the National Weather Service were in Florence to view the runoff of snowmelt that is cascading through the streets and pooling throughout town. The flooding in Ravalli County, caused by a little rain, is a foretaste of what will likely happen in Missoula this spring after the snowpack switched in February from below to way above normal (see image above).

“Currently, the upper Clark Fork basin is running about a 144 percent of normal with the Bitterroot basin running 153 percent of normal,” said NWS Meteorologist Corby Dickerson. “I can also say that pretty much every drainage basin in Western and Central Montana, basically all of our mountains, are running over 100 percent as of now.”

According to Hydrologist Ray Nicholas, all of the extra snow means flooding is likely this spring.

“Right now, we are projecting that, more than likely, there will be flooding on the Bitteroot River and the Clark Fork River in Missoula,” Nicholas said. “Then, there will be flooding, more than likely, in other locations in the Bitterroot area across this valley and then in the small streams around the Clark Fork above Missoula.”

Areas like Target Range, Orchard homes, and Rattlesnake Creek are expected to see some flooding this year, comparable to 2011, if not worse. The flood season should peak around mid-May.


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