Rain throughout the week, combined with melting snow from Canada, will have rivers on the rise in the Flathead Valley by midweek, according to the National Weather Service in Missoula.
As of Monday afternoon a flood watch had been issued for Flathead County, along with most of western and southern Montana. A hydrologic outlook had been issued for Lincoln County, which means that while rain will likely affect the rivers, they are unlikely to hit flood stage in the immediate future. Closer to the Continental Divide, which is expected to get one or two inches of rain during the next few days, there were concerns that the Flathead River could rise above its banks.
“It’ll be a close call as to if it hits flood stage or not,” said Ray Nickless, a hydrologist with the weather service in Missoula.
During a daily flood briefing Monday, Nickless said that an increase in runoff and this week’s rain could lead to the Flathead River hitting flood stage near Columbia Falls this week. As of Monday afternoon the river was 12.61 feet, less than a foot and a half away from flood stage.
Other area rivers were also likely to be affected by the coming rains. Both the Whitefish and Stillwater Rivers in Kalispell were forecasted to hit flood stage by Wednesday afternoon, while Swan River in Bigfork would do the same Thursday.
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