Be prepared for spring flooding


Water from the Willow Creek Ditch lays close to Old Yellowstone Trail earlier this week. Talc Road was closed from Conner's Ranch to 7th Ave. E. last Friday due to water on the road. Voice photo by Melissa Jenkins

The challenges of spring flooding were very evident last week with a road closure reported Friday in Three Forks.

Talc Road was closed from the Conner's Ranch driveway to 7th Ave. E. due to overflow of the Willow Creek Ditch. The road was reported fully open again Saturday morning. City officials thanked the public works staff for their hard work in getting the road open again.

In a release from Gallatin County Emergency Management, they reported the spring weather over the next several months will have a large impact on the runoff.

"It is challenging in the middle of March to predict if we will get wet spring snow dumps, a quick spike in hot weather, or heavy warm rain – all of which impact how quickly our winter snow pack will melt off. Ideally our snow will melt off continually over time, but when enough off these weather contributors occur the snow can melt faster than our waterways can accommodate and we see flooding," the release states.

GCEM officials also reported the area often sees heavy wet snow dumps in the spring and that is often a major contributor to spring runoff.

"The big question with flooding is how quickly the snow melts in the mountains or valley floor. Common situations that frequently expedite the snow melt are quick temperature shifts into the 70's, mountains not dropping below freezing at night and significant warm rain over a short period of time. When these happen factors align, we frequently see widespread flooding. With the speed of the snow melting largely dependent on the weather over the next month and these contributing factors it is hard to say with certainty if we will or won't be affected by widespread flooding."

The City of Three Forks reported that both Seiler's Hardware and Three Forks Lumber both have sandbags available for purchase and reminded residents to make sure their basement is operable, adding to remember it is unlawful in Three Forks for groundwater to be discharged into the sewer.


At this point we can't predict if flooding will occur, but we have a heavy snow pack on the valley floor and in the mountains. If you live near a waterway, now is the time to make sure as much water as possible stays in the waterway. Take some time now to do the following:

• Clean debris out of culverts and from under bridges.

• Clear debris out of ditches and other waterways.

• Make sure there is a clear path for snow to melt away from your buildings.

• Clear snow piles away from doors, windows and other places that makes it easy for melting snow to affect you.

Next, spend a few minutes to develop a plan on what you will do if flooding does affect you.

• Identify where you could be affected by flooding.

• Identify at what point the water would affect you, and develop a plan to keep the water from getting there.

• Identify what you would need in order to implement your plan and where you will get the supplies. The best source for sand bags is Bozeman Brick and Tile on Jackrabbit.

If flooding does occur, do this:

• Closely monitor the water conditions and predicted weather. Water levels change quickly and often peak in the middle of the night.

• If it looks like your plan may need to be implemented to protect your property, get the supplies and implement the plan. Once flooding occurs, it is too late to prevent the damage.

• Once implemented, continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to make adjustments. Water is hard to predict and it is going to go someplace.

• Be safe around flood water. It can be very dangerous and often catches people off guard.

More information at:

There were still signs of winter Monday in the Willow Creek Ditch off of Talc Road. Voice photo by Melissa Jenkins


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