17-12-20 Bigwood River Flood 5 Roland.jpg

The Big Wood River flows at flood stage near Hailey in the spring of 2017.

The National Weather Service called off a river flood advisory issued on Tuesday, about a day after issuing the notice for sections of Blaine County.

Residential areas along the Big Wood River—especially in Hailey’s Della View subdivision, the western portion of War Eagle Drive in Hailey and Gimlet subdivision south of Ketchum—were deemed at risk of lowland seepage and ponding, the Monday advisory stated. Those with riverfront or river-adjacent homes were urged to take action to protect their property, and recreationalists were told exercise caution when near the river.

Around 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, the river was flowing at 1,130 cubic feet per second and its height was 3.6 feet at the U.S. Geological Survey gauge at Lions Park in Hailey. The river’s bank-full stage, or the point at which water will begin to enter the floodplain, is 3.7 feet.

“Although [the river’s water level] has been dropping, the river is expected to remain near to just above bank-full for the next 24 hours, if not longer,” the Weather Service stated Monday.

From May 21-24, the Big Wood River north of Ketchum hit its lowest-ever recorded flow rate for those dates. According to USGS spokesman Tim Merrick, this week’s flooding conditions could persist—but not for long.

“Snowmelt triggered by warmer temperatures and precipitation from storms contributed to the increased streamflow, he said. “We may see a similar peak as temperatures warm up again this week, but there isn’t much snow left in the basin.”

Natural Resources Conservation Service hydrologist Danny Tappa agreed that another bump in river flows could materialize with the cooler, wetter weather patterns predicted for next week.

“Still, I would expect this to be a short-lived event, with a fairly quick return to below-normal flows,” he said.

In the case of active flooding, the city of Hailey will provide sandbags at War Eagle Drive and other locations. Flood resources and tips on how to prepare your home for high water can be found at blaineemergency.org.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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