Mother Nature Brings Unique Flood Situation to Area
May 9, 2018
Now that spring has arrived, or depending on the day, summer, the flood outlook has decreased considerably over the past week. According to the National Weather Service in Glasgow, the Milk River near Glasgow is at 22.22 feet and is expected to continue to decrease over the next week.
The rising river did not have much effect on those living in town, except if residents decided to drive down Hwy. 24 and witness Sullivan Park closed off and underwater or to see water on the roadways at Vandalia Road, Whatley Road, Bentonite Road. Many might have driven out to Tampico Road North, Bell Road or even 6th Ave/Aitken Road to see those roads were not at all passable. Farmers and ranchers who lived in areas that flooded had trouble accessing their homes with some not being able to start their seeding.
According to Warning Coordination Meterologist Patrick Gilchrist, this flood season was slightly unusual due to how long winter decided to stick around. The start of the flooding began around mid-April, when the typical start time is early April. The cold temperatures that stuck around longer prolonged the melting of the snow, which in turn prolonged how and when the Milk would rise. As of April 30, 63.4 inches of snow was recorded at the Glasgow weather office, making it the third snowiest winter in Glasgow history. If weather conditions would have gone in the opposite direction and decided to warm up quickly, the flooding situation could have been a lot worse.
Because of the way Mother Nature decided to slowly ramp up for the spring season, flood waters peaked at the end of April, which is appoximately two weeks later than normal. As a result of not having any big rain events, the flood levels remained stagnant for several weeks and are now starting to decrease. "We rode out this flood event pretty well. Nice, dry, weather conditions helped get and keep things in control," said Gilchrist.
According to Gilchrist, there are many puzzle pieces that come into play when determining how the Milk will flood, when it will peak and the impacts of the event. A big piece of puzzle is how the creeks flowing in and out of the Milk will behave. In this event, the creeks made the flood event unique, in the sense that they had already ran their course before the river creasted at 30.09 feet on April 29. Water ended up backing up from the Milk into the creeks,whereas in previous years all the creeks flowed into the river, contributing to the Milk rising.
This flood seems very mild compared to the flood event fresh in everyone's minds, 2011. That flood event was a record-breaking year in terms of how the Milk flooded. During that disaster, the river peaked twice, once in mid-April, as normal, and then again on June 8, at the record of 34 feet. According to Gilchrist, that flood was also different than normal, because Mother Nature decided to continue to bring rain events, with no end in sight at the time. These events made the flooding continue well past April, and there was literally nowhere else for all of the rain and snow melt to go but rise up as time went on.
As flood waters continue to decrease, a sigh of relief can be had as compartively, this year could have had a lot more significant impacts. According to Gilchrist, it's still possible to flood in June as there is usually greater preceiptation changes in May and June and the mountain snowpack is melting out around that time. The fall season could also bring flooding, like the area saw in 1986 and 2016.
Weather is unpredictable and even though our local meterologists have many different tools to predict what Mother Nature will bring, anything can truly happen.