Flood Watch Missoula/Bitterroot

by jhwygirl

I didn’t catch the evening news on the idiot box, and I’m not seeing a flashing red “Breaking” notice across the Missoulian page, so here goes.

The National Weather Service has put out a Flood Warning for Missoula – in the area where the city lies (from East Missoula to past the city).

What is interesting is this:

* AT 10.0 FEET…FLOODING OF LOW LYING AREAS ADJACENT TO THE RIVER
IS POSSIBLE. SPECIFIC FLOOD PRONE AREAS INCLUDE NORTHERN PORTIONS
OF TOWER AND STONE STREETS IN THE ORCHARD HOMES AREA.

* AT 12.0 FEET…FLOODING IS POSSIBLE ALONG THE CLARK FORK RIVER
FROM RESERVE STREET THROUGH THE ORCHARD HOMES RESIDENTIAL AREA
AND TOWARD THE CONFLUENCE WITH THE BITTERROOT RIVER NEAR KELLY
ISLAND.

Just how close will we get to that 10 foot or 12 foot level? Take a look a this hydrograph from near East Missoula. That hydrograph is live info for the actual flows – and the projection portion is changed pretty frequently. It has – so you know – only been going UP and for a longer period of time for the last few days.

So if any of you folks live in the Orchard Homes area or near Tower and Stone Street (especially) you might think about getting prepared. Believe it or not, I’ve actively ‘participated’ (for lack of a better word) in two floods. They aren’t a lot of fun – especially if you don’t have any warning.

Also of interest is the Bitterroot between the East and West Fork and on down to its confluence with the Clark’s Fork. The National Weather Service currently has a Flood Watch in effect for the Bitterroot. Here is, also, the hydrograph for Bell Crossing.

As you can see, those bridges are going to be pretty stressed, as they already are. The current projection for Bell Crossing is for it to hit above flood stage. The Bell Crossing bridge has, in fact, met the ire of a number of people, including one of Ravalli’s tea party leaders who owns a home right next to the river. As you can note from that article, he now feels the government should come in a take action to protect his home.

As an aside, I love that quote in there from former Ravalli County Attorney George Corn: “You can sue a ham sandwich if you can pay the filing fee.”

In other parts of the Bitterroot more theater will likely play out with Tom Robak, who built his house illegally in the county floodplain. Hef also brought in fill to do it, which is also a violation of (at least) county floodplain regs. I’ve written twice about the Robak issue here, touching on the greater issues his violation presents – and why floodplain regs are a good thing.

Robak’s house is somewhere down near theEast Fork/West Fork of the Bitterroot, and Robak recently made application to dredge out and remove an island in the BItterroot to help protect his unfinished illegally-built home…along with rip-rapping the bank of the river to help save the home.

As you can see from that hydrograph, it isn’t looking pretty there – and if you built your home in the floodplain and brought fill in to do it? Not only are you going to have problems, you are going to be causing problems for any bridge downstream from you…for any irrigation structure downstream from you…and pretty much any property downstream.

His liability at this point is pretty great.

Bottom line, folks, is that if you live next to the river or you know anyone that does, you might want to offer them some help to get stuff up out of the basement and up off the first floor. Sitting in denial until it’s creeping up on the lawn isn’t smart. Trust me.

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  1. petetalbot

    Called a friend at the end of River Road — 10:30 pm — all’s OK so far — thanks for the update — this is important local stuff.

  2. mr benson

    Miles City is flat out under water. Any help other municipalities can send, hey pay it forward Missoula, will probably be appreciated.

    • Glasgow has had a hell of a time this year. I think there’s parts that have been under water for more than 2 weeks.

      What about Big Sky? That’s on a later schedule I suppose. There’s still snow on the ground in West Yellowstone.

  3. Matthew Koehler

    Looks like it’s time to, once again, bring out the nursery rhyme.

    Ro, Ro, Robak your house
    gently up the stream…

  4. lizard19

    anyone who voted for the tea-party should be barred from any aid or emergency assistance from any government agency.

    • Chuck

      Lizard, I know some tea baggers out in the woods. They are the folks that have the equipment, materials and knowledge to open the roads so the government can get in to help those that can’t help themselves. The teabaggers won’t wait for the county or your city council guy to come remove logs crushing the bridge, they’ll just bring their crane or excavator over and do it. The tea baggers are the ones that have months of food and water, medical gear and radios. There’s baggers out there now , along high water , just taking care of neighbors. The government calls them for help.

  5. Booman has a nice ‘big picture’ post up about the flooding potential in the Rockies. He points out the biggest danger, which is a quick and extreme warm spell taking hold over the region. The rain isn’t helping anything at all, bit the cool weather is. As long as it warms gently through June, most of us should be fine. Most of us …

  6. mr benson

    Here’s my caution: has your house/apt/abode flooded in the last 20 years?

    If “yes” then start making plans. It’s gonna flood this year.

    And if you live in a place that floods every year? Mother Nature is trying to tell you something. The message this year will be more emphatic.

  7. lizard19

    as i was biking over the footbridge by campus with my family this afternoon, i saw two motor boats tearing up the Clark Fork. both boats had a bunch of college-age dudes in them, and most of them appeared to be drinking beer. how stupid is that?




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