Flooding puts western Montana on standby

Much of western Montana was put under a flood warning on Monday after water generated from rain storms and higher-than-average snow pack barreled into the region’s major rivers.

The Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Flathead rivers were at-or-near minor flood stage as of Monday afternoon. Despite the flood danger, officials said no structures in Missoula County are at risk, and there is a chance the worst of the surge has passed.

One exception is the Flathead River between Glacier National Park and Bigfork, which is expected to stay in flood stage through the week after snow storms blanket higher elevation mountains.

The weather service predicted snow above 5,000 feet along stretches of the Continental Divide through Tuesday night. Above 6,000 feet, more than 12 inches of snow is projected.

Brian Heino, sheriff of Flathead County, said concerns from minor flooding are mostly to recreation sites, sudden erosion of the river banks and possible undercutting of roads near water. The river, measured at 14 feet in Columbia Falls, could rise by a foot in the coming days.

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