While the Blaine County flood situation is getting better, officials continue to warn people to use caution and be on the lookout.
“You do this little ballet with the weather every day, ” Blaine County Commissioner Vic Miller said this morning.
People with reports of flood conditions have been urged to notify the Blaine County commissioners at 357-3250, the Disaster and Emergency Services office at 357-3310 or the sheriff’s office at 357-3260.
Hill and Blaine counties have been on the lookout for severe flooding since mid-winter, with high levels of snow containing substantial moisture in the northern parts of the counties creating that possibility.
Both counties have been experiencing some flooding, leading to some road closures, with a forecast starting late last week for flooding on the Milk River that could have led to water in the streets of Harlem and Chinook.
That forecast has been downgraded as this week has gone on.
The National Weather Service had predicted the Milk to go over its banks by midweek this week, with the potential peak at 24 feet by Tuesday. That level has historically resulted in flooding in the streets and homes of Chinook and Harlem.
Miller said the latest forecast is for the river to peak at 21.7 feet.
“That’s good news, ” he said, adding, “The first part of next week we might get back to some normalcy.”
Miller said that, with the warm weather the area is experiencing, the Milk’s water level is likely to peak Saturday or Sunday morning.
The levels of the tributaries of the Milk River had dropped down as of this morning, although the streams have been cycling up and down daily as the cooler nights slow down the snowmelt.
Miller said Thirty Mile Creek north of Harlem, which has been flooding and led to a short evacuation of two homes this week, was below its banks this morning. It is not likely to rise above flood level again until late Saturday or early Sunday, he said.
The breach of the dam at reservoir BR 12 near Zurich was repaired this week, and Miller said it would be a controlled breach at the reservoir this summer.
The breach did not impact Zurich.
Flooding has been a high-profile issue in the area since last summer, when flooding in the Bear’s Paw Mountains led President Barack Obama to declaring a federal disaster on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and in Hill County.
The concern could become more regular in coming years. Weather and climate forecasters said last fall that world weather patterns are likely to lead to colder, wetter winters for the next 30 years or so, with higher snow accumulations than seen in the region from about 2000 to 2007. The region — and most of the state — was in a period of severe drought in the first part of the last decade.
Miller commended the work of people on the local, state, federal and even international levels
Communication has been effective between the county officials and the state Department of Natural Resources, the National Weather Service and Canadian officials, leading to a high level of awareness and preparedness of Blaine County residents, he said.
“We’ve just been getting the information out really well, ” Miller said. “People are listening.
“It’s working the way it’s supposed to work,” he added.