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Spring Flooding Likely In Clark Fork, Flathead Valleys, NWS Says

Snow water equivalent, basin percentage of normal, Feb. 1, 2018.
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Snow water equivalent, basin percentage of normal, Feb. 1, 2018.

The National Weather Service says there's a 70 percent chance of flooding in the Clark Fork and Flathead River valleys this spring.

"Probably not a bad idea to start thinking about sandbags," National Weather Service hydrologist Ray Nickless says in a youtube video posted today.

Nickless says snowpack around western Montana has hit record levels at sites in several Western Montana river basins including Rocker Peak, Nevada Ridge, and Warm Springs. Many other areas are on pace to set new records.

Every data collection site Nickless referenced showed snow levels that were already higher than total season averages by early February. At lower elevations near Missoula, some of that snow has already begun melting off, Nickless says, but at higher elevations, it tends to continue accumulating into April and sometimes May.

"So that's an area of concern as we go into the spring, especially if we mix some good spring rains with it," he says.

Nickless says next weekend's sunny days and cooler nights around Missoula should help with slower melting in the area. The rest of the month should see cooler weather and above normal precipitation, which Nickless calls, "not totally unusual."

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