River Level is Slightly Lower – For Now…..
The National Weather Service has dropped the Flood Watch for the Bitterroot River this week, though high water season is just beginning.
There are two official river gauges - one south of Darby and the other on Bell Crossing, near Victor. Both showed the river level rising 2 feet over the weekend. Monday morning, each gauge was about a foot below flood stage. At Darby, the flood stage is 7.5 feet and at Bell Crossing, it's 11 feet.
By Wednesday morning with the cooler weather -- A drop in river levels -- Darby is at 5.78 feet and Bell Crossing is at 9.43, after reaching 10.43 Monday.
The Ravalli County Commissioners have declared a flood emergency, which allows certain funding to become available and gives the Emergency Operations department more leeway in preparing for what is looking like a long, long high water season.
Already, sandbags have placed in hazardous areas, including a portion of the river south of Sula.
The weather forecast is for cooler temperatures for the rest of the week, but there's a possibility of more rain (and snow in the mountains, again), which could add to the amount of water rushing down the streams and the river.
The river is running fast and muddy right now, and officials are advising people to stay off the river due to the great amount of debris. Backhoes have been used to clear some of the floating logs from bridge pilings this week.