Flood Waters Begin to Recede

By Beacon Staff

After some flooding Monday, water levels throughout the county began receding Tuesday, and – barring a major rain event – are expected to continue to drop as temperatures cool later this week.

Flood warnings remained in effect, however, for the Flathead River and the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. A flood watch was also in effect for the North Fork of the Flathead River near Polebridge.

“We’re expecting a little shot of rain tonight, but don’t expect that to cause a large change in the rivers,” Ray Nickless, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said. “We should see the rivers drop some as temperatures cool this week, but there’s a system coming through late Wednesday into Thursday and Friday that could have some pretty good rain along the Continental Divide and the headwaters of the Flathead.”

Temperatures could drop low enough, Nickless said, that the storm produces snow instead of rain in the mountains, which would lessen the chance of more flooding later this week.

Low-lying areas in West Glacier were flooded Monday when the Middle Fork of the Flathead River rose almost three feet between Sunday afternoon and Monday afternoon, capping out at 11.23 feet – more than a foot above the river’s 10-foot flood stage. The rising waters affected about a dozen homes in the area and the Glacier View Golf Course.

But, by Tuesday afternoon, the Middle Fork had dropped below flood stage to about 9.5 feet. The Flathead River near Columbia Falls also experienced a precipitous decline: after spiking to just above its 14-foot flood stage Monday afternoon, water levels there dropped to about 13.5 feet Tuesday.

The North Fork of the Flathead near Polebridge remained steady Monday through Tuesday, hanging around 11.25 feet, just below its 12-foot flood stage.

Nickless said waters would continue to rise on the Stillwater River and Whitefish River, but didn’t expect them to reach flood stage.

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