Warmer Temps, High Snowpack to Cause Spring Flooding - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Warmer Temps, High Snowpack to Cause Spring Flooding

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MISSOULA -

Above average snowpack and warm temperatures could cause floods across the state.

The Montana Department of Emergency Services recently sent out an alert, reminding residents to be prepared for flooding, as temperatures rise into the 60s this week.

Experts at the National Weather Service said they haven't seen such high snowpack levels across Montana since 2011.

They said the melt should be gradual, but the runoff-- and potential flooding-- could last well into June this year.

"The snow has just been sitting up there, and we've been accumulating snow really since about February," said National Weather Service Hydrologist Ray Nickless.

Nickless said the Bitterroot River basin snowpack levels are 160% of average.

"And then as you go into the Clark Fork River basin about 145-150% of average."

Nickless said the many smaller streams that feed those river basins could also start to flood this spring.

"Probably the areas we're most concerned with obviously are the Bitterroot River, and then the main Clark Fork River, especially as it comes into Missoula, and then throughout Ravalli County," he explained.

Overnight lows over the plains and lower mountain elevations could remain above freezing each night, which would also increase snowmelt.

"We're going to see the rivers continue to go up and up and up all the way through May and into June."

Nickless said it's a good idea to look into flood insurance, especially if you live in low-lying areas prone to flooding, or near creeks, streams or rivers.

"You know, if there's areas you can sandbag to keep from getting wet, that's a good thing to do also," he said.

State emergency services officials also want to remind people to never drive through water flowing over roadways, because it only takes a little bit of water to float a vehicle.

You should also be aware there is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect.

To learn more about flood preparedness, click here.

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