June 5, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 23

Milk River Above Flood Stage

Triple Crossing Dam Going Out, Road Closed

The Milk River at Glasgow jumped ahead of predictions and rose to 25.6 feet late Tuesday night. Flood stage is 25 feet, so there is minor flooding in low-lying areas. The latest forecast from the National Weather Service office in Glasgow (1:30 a.m. on Wednesday) is that the river will hold near 26 feet from Wednesday through Friday, and be at 27.5 feet early on Sunday.

Samar Fay / The Courier
At the Sixth Avenue Bridge in Glasgow, rising water crept up into the trees on the banks on Tuesday afternoon. The Milk River rose above flood stage Tuesday night and is expected to reach 27.5 feet by Sunday.

The situation changed quickly from the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, when the river was at 23.15 feet and a height of 27 feet was predicted by 6 a.m. on Sunday.

The NWS has issued flood warnings for swollen streams and creeks across central and northeast Montana.

Thunderstorms are likely Friday afternoon in Phillips and Valley counties. The NWS said a few storms may become severe with large hail and damaging winds.

Dam failure

In south Valley County, the Triple Crossing Dam is going out, according to Pat Gunderson, field manager at the BLM field office in Glasgow. The dam was damaged and repaired in 2011, but it has quite a bit of water behind it now and is failing. A crew has been working on it and thought they had it fixed, but another spot is going.

The Triple Crossing Access Road will be closed as of Wednesday from Beaver Branch Road to Ridge Road until water levels go down. Money has been appropriated and contracts will be let to rebuild the dam this fall or next spring, according to Gunderson.

The Triple Crossing Dam is needed for flood control on the Milk River. Lone Tree Creek and other south county streams flow into Willow Creek, which runs north and enters the Milk just upstream of the Milk River Bridge on Highway 24 South.

Willow Creek was flowing over the Willow Creek Road early on Tuesday but receded later in the day, according to Wayne Waarvik, head of the County Road Department. He said Larb Creek also came up.

Flood warnings

Beaver Creek near Hinsdale is rising and forecast to be at flood stage, 14 feet, by 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Only minor flooding is expected, according to the NWS.

Flood warnings were also issued Tuesday night for the Milk River near People’s Creek in Phillips County, where partial flooding of U.S. 2 was reported near Dodson. The NWS advised travelers to take alternate routes or delay travel for 24 hours.

The Milk River at Tampico rose more than a foot and a half between mid-afternoon on Tuesday and 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, when it was at 18.6 feet. Forecasters predict that the river will pass the 23-foot flood stage and reach 24.4 feet by early Sunday morning, with moderate flooding expected.

The river at Nashua had a similar rise between Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning, when it was reported at 15.6 feet. It is expected to top out at 16.8 feet on Sunday, well below the 20-foot flood stage.

Two widespread and sustained rains in central and northeast Montana in less than a week are the source of this high water. Last month was the 10th wettest May on record. The NWS in Glasgow recorded a total of 4.46 inches of rain for the month, which was 2.54 inches more than normal. Another 1.33 inches has fallen in the first days of June.

“It’s been a wet one!” said Brian Burleson of the Glasgow NWS office. “Over the last 11 days, Glasgow has received almost 47 percent of our yearly normal precipitation.”

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