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Water spreads across property along Austin Road near Carey, seen in a still photo from a video taken Tuesday by Chris Corwin of Blaine County Emergency Communications.

    Minor flooding is starting in Carey, blocking some roads and threatening traffic along U.S. Highway 20.

Snowmelt and rain are coming down nearby hillsides, overflowing sections of Fish Creek and, for a time, part of the Little Wood River. As of Thursday, Austin and Peck roads were closed and Spud Patch Road was closed to through traffic. That forces some to take alternate routes home but isn’t having major travel impacts yet, Blaine County Road and Bridge Manager Steve Thompson said.

    Carey Public Works Manager Bob Simpson said the Little Wood River also flooded a bit around Carey earlier this week, likely caused by snow blocking channels, but the water has been redirected since.

    The Idaho Transportation Department is also closely monitoring water that has started to flow onto U.S. Highway 20 east of Carey. ITD Regional Foreman Carl Horn said Thursday that a bridge over Fish Creek has met capacity and that some water is flowing west beside the road. He said that about a mile west of the bridge, the water has started spilling onto part of the highway.

Horn said there’s no danger of losing the bridge at this point. He also said there are signs alerting traffic to some water on the road, but otherwise, “There’s really nothing we can do at this time.”

Thompson said the Road and Bridge Department placed a few sandbags in strategic places, but couldn’t sandbag many areas where the water is flowing directly over smaller roads. He said the water around Carey is now moving through culverts and channels without much blockage, but he doesn’t expect the water levels to drop in the near future.

    “It’s just more water than everything can handle,” he said. “We’re just monitoring at this point.”

    Thompson said minor flooding has occurred in Croy Creek west of Hailey, also likely caused by snow blocking channels. While those channels were largely cleared, Blaine County Recreation District workers were unable to groom Croy Nordic trails Thursday because water was too high at the access point for groomers to access the area, according to Trails Assistant Janelle Conners.  

    Water has also been running over state Highway 75 about a mile south of Ketchum. Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle said the water is likely coming from Dollar Mountain and flowing down to the road.

    ITD Foreman Brad Lynch said there are grates along the highway to drain the water, but they are mostly frozen over. He said it’s not really a flood yet, but some water is flowing onto the road, and ITD has posted “Water over the road” signs.

    The National Weather Service predicts a 50 to 75 percent chance that the Big Wood River near Hailey will reach flood levels this summer, which is 6 feet deep. At that level, which the Weather Service predicts will come in late May or early June, some minor flooding is expected near the Della View subdivision.

    There is a 55 percent chance that the water will reach 6.75 feet deep in early May, according to the Weather Service. That would cause some street flooding in lower Hailey subdivisions, Lawrence Heagle Park would be inaccessible and water would cover some roads in west Ketchum.

    A stream gauge near the intersection of the Big Wood and west Bullion Street in Hailey shows that the water has risen from 1.72 feet to 3.2 feet between March 13 and March 23.

    To monitor water levels and projections, go to the advanced hydrologic prediction service on the Weather Service’s website.

Email the writer: mbeck@mtexpress.com

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