For the week of May 25, 1999  thru June 1, 1999  

River rises with warm temps

Express Staff Writer

m26river.jpg (22122 bytes)The runoff has begun.

Last week the Big Wood River was clear and blue. Now the waters of the Big Wood have turned to a roiling, muddy brown.

Temperatures for the most part of May have been cooler than normal. However, over the last few days temperatures have risen into the 80s.

According to Debra Hall of the Blaine Soil Conservation District, the Big and Little Wood River drainages lost quite a bit of snowpack over the warm weekend.

"And it’s coming off fast," Hall said, "That’s the problem."

Last week, snowpacks in the Big and Little Wood River drainages were at 150 percent of normal. As of Tuesday, that percentage had dropped to 138 percent.

Otis Disbennett, deputy water master for the Big Wood River, said the volume of the river increased from 1,300 cfs (cubic feet per second) last Thursday, to 1,500 cfs on Saturday, to 2,149 cfs on Monday. Tuesday the volume of the Big Wood River registered at 2,517 cfs.

"So she’s a comin’ up," Disbennett said.

Will it flood?

"That’s a good question," Disbennett said. "There’s a lot of snow up there yet--back of those canyons on the north-facing slopes."

Disbennett said the next two weeks should tell the story, but that he didn’t expect too much flooding.

According to Mary Mellema, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Boise, the Big Wood River registered 4.66 feet at the recording station in Hailey Tuesday.

Mellema said she expected the river to reach 5.5 feet by late Thursday. Mellema said temperatures should moderate after Thursday and that she didn’t expect the river to exceed flood stage at this point.

Flooding usually occurs during the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June. Flood stage for the Big Wood River at the recording station in Hailey is 6 feet.

According to Mellema, the last major flood occurred in 1983 when the river reached the 7.93 feet mark.

The river also exceeded flood stage in 1984, 86, 95, and 96. In 1997 the Big Wood crested at 6.73 feet on June 5.

According to county officials, they have not received any calls about flooding or requests for sandbags. As of Tuesday, there had been no local flood alerts issued by local or national agencies.

However, according to Hailey city administrator Darrel James, high water has saturated the ground at the Della View subdivision in Hailey near the river. No one had reported any flooding.


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