Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Warm Springs Road may reopen today

Drier weather is allowing county road crews to clean up roadway


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

After weeks of rain- and mudslide-induced closures, Blaine County officials hope to finally open Warm Springs Road to the public sometime today.

The gravel road west of Ketchum has been closed since early June because of repeated landslides. Officials with the county have kept the road closed past the point where the pavement ends, leaving access uncertain to about 25 homes and cabins.

At long last, a several-day break in the near-constant rainfall of the past three to four weeks has begun to finally dry out the rural road and surrounding hillsides. But a notice on the county's Web site Tuesday noted that while the road may reopen, some recreational amenities on National Forest land may not.

"Many of the camp spots have been inundated and need to be cleaned up," the notice states.

County officials said that if the dry period lasts, they will move some of the accumulated material from the slides to the first low spot in the road and install a culvert. They said that could lead to temporary traffic restrictions along the road.

A slide during heavy rainfall Sunday evening led to the latest road blockage. County officials heard reports that three cars were stuck, but residents with four-wheel-drive vehicles were able to pull them out.

National Weather Service forecasts for Ketchum suggest the mudslide threat out Warm Springs may have passed. The weather service is forecasting mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid-70s for the rest of the week.

Only on Thursday and into the morning on Friday is it calling for any chance of rain, and that's put at just a slight chance.

Here's the weather service's detailed forecast for the rest of the week:

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 78 degrees. Calm wind becoming south-southwest at 11-14 miles per hour. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph.

Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 50. Southwest wind 7-10 mph, becoming calm.

Thursday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly cloudy, with a high near 73. East-northeast wind at 9 mph, becoming south.

Thursday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms before midnight, then a slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 44. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers before noon. Partly cloudy with a high near 73.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy with a low around 44.

Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high near 73.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy with a low around 47.

Sunday: Sunny with a high near 75.

Go to the county's Web site at www.blainecounty.org for updated reports on the Warm Springs Road situation.

Jason Kauffman: jkauffman@mtexpress.com




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