Flooding Spreads in Eastern Montana as Waters Recede in West

Rivers are expected to flood in eastern and central Montana in coming days

By Associated Press

BILLINGS — Rivers are expected to flood in eastern and central Montana in coming days, even as water levels fall in western portions of the state after hitting their highest mark in a century.

The Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone near the small community of Edgar is expected to crest late Thursday at the highest level ever recorded, National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Tesar said. Records for the river about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Billings date to the 1920s.

“It’s not a big community but there will be some areas impacted and maybe a few homes impacted,” Tesar said.

A Billings man was swept to his death in a boating accident Monday afternoon on the swollen waters of the Smith River near Great Falls.

In central Montana, the Musselshell River was above or approaching major flood stage. Flood warnings also were issued for the Big Hole River near Melrose and the Jefferson River near Three Forks.

Driving the widespread flooding is a combination of rainfall and melting snow.

Up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain were expected in southeastern Montana in coming days. Higher temperatures later in the week could accelerate the melting of a deep winter snowpack.

The Clarks Fork is a different river than the Clark Fork River in Missoula, which crested earlier this month and has now started to recede. Missoula County search and rescue crews were scheduled to begin surveying damage to flooded homes on Tuesday.

Crews shored up a levee near Missoula that was damaged by erosion, Jess Jordan of the Army Corps of Engineers said.

The levee protects homes and various utilities, including pipelines and power lines.

The situation no longer poses a hazard to the public although work will continue for the next week to further stabilize the levee, Jordan said.

However, officials warned that high water along the Clark Fork continues and the danger of additional flooding is not over yet.

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