Monday, May 15, 2017

Floods of '17

Blaine County Flooding ‘dangerous’

Hailey- Flooding in the Wood River Valley continues today as record mountain snows melt.

"So far, we've seen 60 homes in the area that have voluntarily evacuated," said Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle. Warm Springs Creek came up significantly the last two days, and many of the houses out here are now islands." 

The National Weather Service says the record high streamflows are the result of warmer temperatures in at the higher elevations and thats caused snow to melt. With storms moving in on Tuesday and snow in the forecast increasing streamflows may recede until the weekend.

The Blaine County Sheriffs office calls the flooding situation along the river  ‘dangerous’  saying the spring runoff is coming down from the mountains faster than expected and could top previous flood levels. 

Today at noon, river levels in Hailey were measured at 5.89 feet. Flood stage starts at 6 feet.

Fallen trees along Warm Springs creek have clogged up the stream, especially under bridges. Blaine County sheriffs office says they're treating log jams on a case-by-case basis and only removing them when they can.

"There is 30-40 foot cottonwoods flowing down there, just giant torpedoes, so another big reason to stay out of the water, even if you're a kayaker or paddle boarder, is because there are giant logs flowing there and you never know when you might hit one," Blaine County Disaster Service Coordinator Chris Corwin said.
On Sunday acting governor Lt. Gov. Brad Little, declared a state of emergency in the county over the weekend, which clears the way for state emergency funding and other resources for help.

The Sheriffs Office issued voluntary evacuations for the Warm Springs area in Ketchum over the weekend where crews rescued a family from rising flood waters on Saturday. The Big Wood River reached the "major flooding" stage Sunday morning while smaller creeks have turned into rivers.

Warm Springs Road is closed to through traffic and travel beyond the pavement is dangerous, according to the sheriffs office.

A half dozen homes on the road are now surrounded by water. One homeowner says she's never seen flooding like this in the four decades she's lived there.

 "It's scary because you don't know whats under the water covering the roads there. It could be completely washed out underneath there and you wouldn't know it. That's scary especially for anyone with kids," said Margaret Stewart.

Sun Valley Resort has chairlifts and a lodge along Warm Springs and for the first time ever their crews had to sandbag the Warm Springs Lodge over the weekend to protect the Lodge from floodwaters. 

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