Salmon River running highSALMON — The Salmon River has reached the highest flood levels in decades.
Melting snow and daily rainstorms have flowed into the river and is above flood stage and could stay there with warm days in the forecast according to the National Weather Service office in Missoula, Mont.
The river flooded Island Park on the west side of Salmon last week,overtaking a wall of sandbags that volunteers put there to keep the river from flooding the cities riverfront.
Earlier this week the Salmon River peaked at 9.2 feet, thats considered medium flood stage but the river hadn’t hit that level since the 1980’s according to the National Weather service.
Major flooding of the river is marked at 9.5 feet, thats where flood waters could overtake homes and businesses in Salmon. So far cool weather has moderated runoff, but it’s getting warmer and theres still a lot of snowpack in the mountains. A backhoe operator had been rebuilding a dirt levy northeast of the Salmon River bridge.
Salmon residents say they’re used to seeing high water in the spring but not this late and most have never seen this much water.
“We’re used to the park flooding, but not like this,” said Salmon City Councilman and retired Forest Service engineer Jim Baker.
Carmen creek north of town is up over its banks and started to flood a home. The homeowner rebuilt a levy around the house and stemmed the tide, for now.
“At this point, I’ve stopped the flooding with quite a little bit of expense and effort on my part,: said Dee Adair. “It’s one of the challenges of living along the river – but I still love it here.”
The Salmon River has run high for weeks, with the peak on May 13 at 8.39 feet until last weeks 9,2, according to the Army Corp of Engineers.
The river’s historic crest, according to records dating back nearly a century, occurred in February 1985, measured 10.33 feet and was caused by an ice jam. Residents continue to pray for cool days until the snowpack is gone.