Bitterroot River Flooding Near Darby and Missoula – No River Rescue Calls Yet [VIDEO] [AUDIO]
The Bitterroot River has passed it's flood stage, and is flooding some low-lying areas in both Ravalli and Missoula counties.
Meteorologist LeAnn Allegretto with the National Weather Service in Missoula said on Sunday, that warm temperatures, especially overnight, have caused increasing snow melt.
"The Bitterroot is definitely above its flood stage, not by much, but here in Missoula, we're seeing a large rise in the water level," Allegretto said. "Flood stage in Missoula is 11 feet, and the river just exceeded 11.1 feet today. In the Darby area, flood stage is just seven feet, and the river is right about at seven feet, maybe a bit higher. We had a real mild night the other night, and temperatures were in the upper 50's, which caused more snow to melt. That caused the river to rise to the level we're seeing now."
Allegretto says the good news is that overnight temperatures will be cooling off.
"It should start to even off, then begin to taper off in the next few days, because we are seeing a bit of a cool down," Allegretto said. "That should help a little bit, but the river's going to continue running high and fast for quite some time."
The two areas that have seen the most minor flooding on the Bitterroot are at Darby, and around the Buckhouse Bridge area in Missoula.
"The Clark Fork is looking good right now," Allegretto said. "It is also running very high and fast, but it's not expected to flood at this time, thanks to the somewhat cooler temperatures in the area."
Meteorologist LeAnn Allegretto
Neither acting Captain Josh Stewart with Missoula City Fire, nor personnel with Missoula Rural Fire have reported any calls for river rescue this holiday weekend.
"I would advise the public to stay off the rivers at this time," Stewart said. "The rivers are very high and there's a lot of hazards, a lot of debris floating in them, and it's very dangerous."
Stewart said it can take only seconds to be swept down the river at this time of year.
"The water is fast and it's very cold, are both are bad," Stewart said. "So far, we haven't had any calls for river rescue, so I think people are being pretty wise about staying off the water."
Personnel at Missoula Rural Fire said many residents are coming in for sand and sandbags, expecting a season much like the flooding of 2011.
Acting Missoula City Fire Captain Josh Stewart