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river running by

May 22 river gaugeI have never lived within reach of a river before now. It is great. But prudence dictates I pay attention to it.

I didn’t move here unaware of the potential, but noticing our home is about two feet higher than the neighbors homes was reassuring. Their description of floods, or the closest thing they have seen to one helps as well.

With Bitterroot snowpack at 180% – 300% of normal, this is definitely a year for close watching of the river. May 22 upstream However, it seems to be working out okay – particularly for those of us upstream from Darby.

The top picture, taken this morning, is of the Conner Cuttoff Road bridge crossing the Bitterroot East Fork… and the first iteration of my river depth gauge. If you sorta/kinda read beneath the bow-wave foam, it is running just over 4 feet.
teeter totter log approaches level
River conditions are fairly noisy, rapid and emanate power. The water is cloudy, indicating rising tributaries picking up silt. The view upstream is of water as high as I’ve seen it this year… but not threatening at all. We did, however, lose our teeter-totter log which has been a feature here for years. (Lower picture May 4th; upper photo with log gone today).

Bitterroot River reportThe earlier, alarming flood warnings from the National Weather Service and Ravalli County Emergency Services did indeed alarm me. That nothing came of it has taught me to read between their lines. A trip ‘over the hill’ last weekend gave me a good first-hand look at the Lost Trail snowpack… very UN-threatening looking to me.

Now confirmation comes from the very same National Weather Service that spun me up with their warnings earlier. The probability of flooding upstream from Darby is very, very slight.
flood probability
The first chart shows possible minor flooding in Darby late this week and early next. The bar chart is their graph of the probability of flooding, week by week.

All in all, it doesn’t look like much threat to any homes sited with even modest attention paid to the river. Now I can go back to watching the river with nothing but pleasure.