Seemingly overnight, SW Montana has gone from serious drought conditions to flood stage. Various rivers are moving off their banks and into a basement near you. The Yellowstone River is the meanest culprit, taking out the Carbella Bridge and causing a 100% closure of YNP. Parts of Rock Creek are now flowing through downtown Red Lodge, Montana and Northwestern energy has issued a statement discouraging all “recreating” on the Madison River. The Gallatin and Jefferson rivers are both over their banks in spots.
Watch chopper video of Yellowstone River tearing up the highway in YNP today: (163) Helicopter footage of flooding in Yellowstone – YouTube
See bridge destruction video here: VIDEO: Flood takes out Carbella Bridge in Gardiner, near Yellowstone National Park | Local News | billingsgazette.com
The situation here on the Madison is unique because up until a few days ago the power company was scrounging to get the reservoir filled by holding back release flows to near record lows. And now, with a sudden push of new snow and rainfall, they have to do an about-face and let a bunch of water out. Trouble is there’s already a ton of water in the river so increased flows out of Hebgen just add to the problem. “Problem” as in 6360cfs at Varney today, Wowsah!
Anyway, we’re up against it for a while. I wouldn’t recommend floating, or even body surfing, under the Shelton Bridge or Kelly Bridge for a few days unless you wear a crash helmet.
Long term, of course, this is good news. Short term…turn on your sump pump and head for the Gravel Bar.