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Ready for a record: All-time flood coming

Jun 8, 2017 From staff reports

The Wind River at Riverton was within an inch of its 2011 crest Thursday, with an unprecedented 12-foot crest predicted.

Major flooding is forecast to hit Riverton this weekend as the Wind River exceeds its previous record crest set in July 2011.

The Wind River at Riverton is forecast to rise to 12.2 feet by early Monday, surpassing the previous record of 11.8 feet. It was observed at 11.74 feet Thursday morning, well above its 9-foot flood stage.

The Little Wind will cause major flooding in Riverton, too, rising from 9.44 feet Thursday morning to 10.9 feet by Saturday afternoon.

Flood stage for the Little Wind at Riverton is 8 feet.

The Little Wind will stay high through Sunday afternoon before slowly falling by Monday, forecasters said; it will remain in moderate flooding into the beginning of next week.

Road closed

The Wind River flowed over U.S. Highway 26 on Wednesday below the Diversion Dam bridge, prompting the Wyoming Department of Transportation to close the road.

Flood stage there is 5.5 feet, and by Thursday morning the Wind River had risen to 6.69 feet.

The closure is between the Diversion Dam junction and Wyoming Highway 132. While the closure is in place, drivers are being routed through Fort Washakie.

Wyoming Department of Transportation district engineer Pete Hallsten of Basin recounted his drive through the area Wednesday afternoon.

"The water flowing across the highway had risen to about a foot deep, and our vehicle wanted to float," he said. "That's when the decision was made to close the roadway until water recedes and the highway is safe for vehicles to pass through."

More records

The Wind River is expected to hit more records this weekend than earlier anticipated, National Weather Service officials said Wednesday.

Current forecasts indicate the Wind River near Dubois will exceed its previous record crest of 5.65 feet set in 2011, slowly rising to hit 5.7 feet through early Saturday before receding to its 5-foot flood stage Monday.

It was last observed at 5.48 feet Thursday morning.

At Kinnear the Wind River is forecast to crest at 9.9 feet by early Monday, tying the all-time high crest of 9.9 feet set in July 2011.

It was at 9.42 feet Thursday morning. Flood stage is 9 feet.

Major flooding is forecast for the Little Popo Agie River above Hudson as well. The water there was last observed t 5.62 feet Thursday morning, and forecasters said it will continue to rise to 6.8 feet.

"This would be the historic crest of record, surpassing the 6.64 feet crest of June 1963," NWS meteorologist Tim Troutman said in a press release Wednesday.

Flood stage is 5.5 feet.

Flooded

Flooding along the Wind River will not exceed top-five records at Crowheart, Troutman said. The river there was last observed at 10.24 feet Thursday morning, and it is expected to rise to 10.7 feet by Sunday afternoon before slowly falling back to its 10-foot flood stage Monday.

The Middle Fork of Popo Agie River at Sinks Canyon above Lander hadn't hit its 6.5-foot flood stage yet Thursday morning when it was seen at 6.25 feet. Troutman said it would rise above flood stage over the weekend, however, cresting at 7.34 feet Saturday and remaining steady through Sunday.

"(The) forecast crest would be similar to the 7.5 feet crest of June 2010," he said.

At Fort Washakie, the Little Wind River is expected to stay above flood stage through the weekend. It was at 4.99 feet Thursday morning. Flood stage is 4.5 feet.

In the southern part of the county near Sweetwater Station the Sweetwater River exceeded its 7-foot flood stage overnight Wednesday to Thursday. It was observed at 7.35 feet Thursday morning and is expected to crest at about 8 feet Sunday.

Not flooded

The North Fork of the Little Wind River near Fort Washakie was last observed at 5.45 feet at 9:45 a.m. Thursday. Flood stage is 6 feet.

The Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River near the Mortimore Lane Bridge was last observed at 4.33 feet at 10 a.m. Thursday. Flood stage is 5 feet.

Forecast

High temperatures Thursday and Friday will keep the snowmelt flowing until the weekend.

Troutman forecast temperatures in the low- to mid-90s, translating to low- to mid-70s in the high mountains. And there's "still a lot of moisture left in the snow pack," he added.

Togwotee Pass still had 45 inches of snow at the end of the day Wednesday - the equivalent of 20.6 inches of water. At Hobbs Park above Lander there were 43 inches of snow at the end of the day Wednesday, or 20.4 inches of water. Deer Park above South Pass still had 43 inches of snow too, and Troutman said there were 24 inches of water there Wednesday. There were 29 inches of snow on South Pass at the end of the day Wednesday, and Troutman counted 16 inches of snow-water equivalent.

Temperatures will cool to 80-85 Saturday and Sunday in the basin, falling to the 50s and 60s in the mountains, Troutman forecast.

"Snow melt will continue but not be as pronounced," he said.

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The Wind River swelled beyond the limits of its wide channel early Thursday afternoon at the main highway crossing in south Riverton. The water is forecast to shatter the previous record crest by Saturday, if not sooner. Photo courtesy Wyoming Public Television

The Wind River swelled beyond the limits of its wide channel early Thursday afternoon at the main highway crossing in south Riverton. The water is forecast to shatter the previous record crest by Saturday, if not sooner. Photo courtesy Wyoming Public Television


The Wind River swelled beyond the limits of its wide channel early Thursday afternoon at the main highway crossing in south Riverton. The water is forecast to shatter the previous record crest by Saturday, if not sooner. Photo courtesy Wyoming Public Television

The Wind River swelled beyond the limits of its wide channel early Thursday afternoon at the main highway crossing in south Riverton. The water is forecast to shatter the previous record crest by Saturday, if not sooner. Photo courtesy Wyoming Public Television

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