Floodwaters rising in Flathead

ANTONIO IBARRA

COLUMBIA FALLS — Torrential rain and high water levels continue to hit most of Flathead County as above-average rainfall sparked flood watches and flood warnings in regions around the three forks of the Flathead River.

Data from the National Weather Service show precipitation loads in the last 24 hours have averaged from 1 to 1.5 inches of rainfall across the Flathead Valley. In mountain locations around the Whitefish and Swan ranges and Glacier National Park, precipitation ranged from two to four inches of rain. Most precipitation fell as snow at 5,000 feet with one to two feet of snowfall at elevations above 6,000 feet.

The main Flathead River at Columbia Falls hit 14.5 feet on Tuesday, 1.5 feet above flood stage. There is a flood warning for the Yaak River near Troy that was flowing at 8.7 feet on Tuesday. By next week, the Flathead is expected to crest at 16.37 feet.

“High river levels cause fast-flowing currents, unpredictable conditions, and very cold water with large amounts of debris,” Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino said in a public notice on Tuesday. “Residents need to stay aware of current weather conditions and avoid low elevation areas when possible. Emergency staff are working to

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