Missouri River levels continue to run high, with snow melt from Montana pushing its way down the Yellowstone, and the river is walking its way out of its banks in several locations. Farm fields have been flooded, and even a parked vehicle or two has been caught unaware by the rising water levels.
The river level Friday afternoon at the Lewis and Clark Bridge was 24.47 feet, and was expected to gradually climb to 25.1 feet by early next week. Flood stage is 22 feet.
The rise is mainly due to mountain snowpack in Montana, rather than rain, according to meteorologists. Todd Hamilton is with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
He said the spring flooding right now isn’t generally as hazardous as what was caused by ice jams earlier this year.
“These are not as sudden,” he said. “They are pretty well handled by the river forecast centers. Their models do a pretty good job of accounting for the rain coming off the mountains. They have a fairly elaborate network of rain gauges and snow monitors up in the mountains, so it’s a lot less erratic than ice jams suddenly causing the river levels to rise.”
Rain Friday afternoon was welcome but lighter than some might wisht. Williston had just 15 hundredths of an inch Friday afternoon, bringing the year to date total to 4.46 inches. That’s 15 hundredths of an inch below normal, but an inch ahead of last year at this time.
Moisture levels, however, have only penetrated to about 8 to 10 inches down, making the area still highly susceptible to drought if and when the rain stops coming down.
“It’s not completely over yet,” Hamilton said. “We do have a couple of other storms trying to get developed over in northeastern Montana that could move into your area overnight. There’s a storm forming to the south of you as well, but it will probably miss you.”
After Friday night, the chances for rain evaporate, for the weekend at least.
“It will be windy and cooler tomorrow,” Hamilton said. “You might see a shower or two, but it looks like the weekend should be dry.”
Monday itself will also be dry, but, that night, the chance for intermittent thunderstorms and showers will return.
“Nothing in that right now looks like a major system like the one Thursday and (Friday),” he said.
Temperatures next week are forecast to be around normal for June, in the 70s to lower 80s.