Careful, Western Montana Rivers Continue to Run High and Cold
Although temperatures will start to climb again this weekend, with some very nice spring weather, you shouldn't even think of cooling off in one of our Western Montana rivers.
That's because the rivers, and streams, continue to run fast and cold, as the summer-like temperatures continue to accelerate the snow melt after our long winter.
And although it appears we'll stay out of trouble with flooding as temperatures spike this next week, you can get into trouble fast if you get caught by that rushing and very cold, water.
While many of the rivers and streams continue to run "bank full" right now, only the Clark Fork River at Missoula has caused any flooding problems. The river topped 9 feet last weekend, which is nearly two feet above the "minor" flood stage. That brought water right up to some properties in the Orchard Homes area, forcing many in the low-lying areas to deploy sandbags.
That was dropped off over the past couple of days, with the gauge at the Clark Fork above Missoula showing the river just below minor flood stage Friday.
However, with temperatures climbing back into the 80s this coming week, hydrologists are expecting the Clark Fork to become very active again, possibly reaching 8.3 feet by the end of the week. That could once more bring some water into the neighborhoods that have become more susceptible to flooding since river channels changed in the 2018 floods.
Other rivers remain fast, and turbid but are forecast to stay in their banks. The Flathead River at Columbia Falls should remain about 1.5 feet below the minor flood stage. The Bitterroot River is also likely to remain a foot or more, below minor flood stage.
Still, we've already had some dramatic rescues this month as people have gotten caught by the high water. So be sure to stay clear, and keep away from banks that might have been weakened by the rapidly rushing water.