Friday, April 21, 2017

Upper Snake poised for flood

Eastern Idaho snow still in mountains, Flood managers worried

Rexburg—Reports indicate that there is still enough snow in the mountains above Palisades reservoir to fill it three times. 

Last month the Bureau of Reclamation reported that the Palisades Dam released 19,500 cubic feet of water per second. Should it reach 20,000 cfs, an emergency could be declared in Madison County, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

The Army Corp has furiously been releasing water at Palisades but still has water in the reservoir. They hope to have it empty by May 1st, just in time to catch the last part of the snowpack. But most of last winters snowpack is still in the Mountains. 

In a special Statehouse meeting on Wednesday, the NRCS reported thats it is still snowing at most mountain snow-tell sites in Eastern Idaho. In normal years Eastern Idaho mountains start to lose snowpack by late March.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter says Eastern Idahoans should pray for mild temperatures to allow snows to melt slowly.

“As I’ve traveled around the state in the past three months, I’ve seen firsthand the destruction caused by this unprecedented weather. Now the snow that in some areas is continuing to fall is turning into runoff that’s filling our rivers and reservoirs to overflowing, threatening people and property statewide,” Governor Otter said. “Most of our counties have declared disasters, and we’re working to get assistance and relief deployed wherever it’s needed as quickly as possible.”

Lt. Col. David DeLarosa of the Army Corp of Engineers says Eastern Idaho counties are preparing for possible flooding that could reach levels as high as those recorded in 2011. At that time water poured over embankments and flooded portions of Beaver Dick Park for several weeks. The previous winter, snowpacks were at 180 percent of normal, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services. 

“We started vacating space in Jackson Lake and Palisades weeks ago. We’ve cleared 1.4 million acre feet in anticipation of what’s coming off those mountains. Right now Palisades is 13 percent of capacity, the potential of flooding in Eastern Idaho is high,” said DeLarosa. 

The Army Corp says they’ve done everything they can operationally to to make space for melting snow.  “But we must prepare for the flood fight thats still to come,” said DeLarosa.

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