Montana officials suggest preparing for flood season now

Posted at 2:12 PM, Mar 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-17 22:10:19-04

GREAT FALLS – After a record-breaking February to end the winter, many people are concerned about spring flooding, especially after last year’s flood season.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Senior Service Hydrologist Arin Peters says in terms of snow pack, we are likely to see a lesser chance of flooding this year in and around Cascade County.

Ultimately, it all will come down to how much rainfall we see this upcoming spring.

He added, “We don’t know when the rains are going to come or how heavy they will be and so it’s likely somewhere in the state, it’s going to flood due to spring rain, we just don’t know exactly where that’s going to be yet.”

The biggest concern right now is the snow that is currently on the ground in lower elevations.

Arin said, “ There is quite a bit of snow or at least water in the snow on the ground at the lower elevations now. You know, on the city streets, in your yard. So that would be the main thing I’d be concerned about in the immediate future, is if all that snow started to melt quickly at the lower elevations.”

Right now, we have been lucky with temperatures rising above freezing during the day and going back below freezing overnight, allowing the snow melt to be gradual.

But, this week, temperatures will be on the rise back above average and will stay warmer at night as well which could speed up the melting process.

Acting Director of Emergency Services Scott Van Dyken said whether it’s for potential flooding now or potential spring flooding, it’s always best to be prepared for the worst.

You can prepare by clearing your culverts, making sure there is a flow-path off your property so your basement is not getting flooded and make sure your sump-pumps are operational.

Make sure to move equipment and livestock to higher ground, especially if you are located near a waterway.

Watch out for flooded roadways or mud on roadways that you could get stuck in.

Get flood insurance as soon as possible because it takes at least 30 days to kick in.

Van Dyken said, “Don’t take chances, because when you take chances, your place, your personal, your family is at risk and then we’re going to have to send people in and puts other peoples, people that are going to have to help you, at risk. So, if you see water rising, don’t take chances. Worldly possessions can be replaced. If you see water coming up, say if you’re along a river, don’t take a chance. Just move out, evacuate temporarily.”

Van Dyken said that DES will continue to work with their other partners, including fire departments, the health departments and the National Weather Service to keep the public informed.

But, he added that DES also looks to the public to keep them informed. You can report flooding to DES at 406-454-6900.