The river gauge south of Darby is now inching toward flood level, triggering a flood warning for the Bitterroot River in the south valley.

The warning has already gone out for the north end of Ravalli County, as the Bell Crossing measurements increased rapidly following the 80-degree temperatures over the weekend.

The figures from NOAA show the Darby readings at 6.6 feet Thursday morning, with the flood stage at 7.5.  And the forecasters expect that to be reached sometime Friday.

Meanwhile, the Bell Crossing river levels are right around 10.33 feet as of 4pm Thursday. Flood stage is 11 feet and the Bitterroot River is expected to rise slightly above that mark late Friday or early Saturday.

Low-lying areas near the river could be flooded and many county roads that are prone to flooding will also be in danger.

The streams and creeks feeding the river are also running bankful and nearby roads will probably be affected this weekend. The Weather Service office has issued a small stream flood advisory for rain and melting snow until 2pm Friday.

The weather system approaching the Bitterroot Valley should include high winds. A high wind advisory is in effect until 4am Friday morning.

A tip from the National Weather Service - when encountering flooded roads, make the smart choice -- turn around...don't drown.

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