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Water slows, but all-time levels still rise in some spots

Water slows, but all-time levels still rise in some spots

Jun 11, 2017 - From staff reports

Cooler temperatures slowed the advance of record-breaking floodwaters Saturday across Fremont County. Many areas remain inundated with water, and some waterways still are expected to rise in the coming days.

A cold front moved across the area Friday night, leading to a slower rate of snowmelt runoff where some rivers and tributaries at or near flood stage crested Saturday morning.

A National Weather Service statement predicted warm and breezy conditions will continue across the remaining snowpack in the Wind River Mountains and Wyoming Range, where main stem rivers in the lower Wind River Basin will crest Monday or early Tuesday.

The weather has been dry for several days, but that could change soon. Strong thunderstorms may produce heavy rain across portions of central and northern Wyoming on Monday afternoon and evening, leading to additional rises in streams and creeks.

Snowmeltaccelerated quickly on Thursday and Friday with warm and gusty southwest wind over the snowpack, the NWS statement noted.

Although temperatures are slightly cooler this weekend, windy conditions through Monday will continue to lead to elevations above 9000 feet losing around an inch or two of snow-water equivalent per day.

BEw measurements showed that South Pass lost more than inches of snow-water equivalent over 24 hours as of noon Saturday.

That station is down nearly seven inches since early Wednesday morning.

Moderate to major flooding will continue along the Wind River, from Dubois downstream to Riverton and the area around Black Bridge north of Riverton.

Current projections have the Wind River at Riverton cresting at around 12.1 feet Saturday afternoon.

The river stage at this gauge hit 12 feet at 12:30 p.m. Friday, after breaking the previous record crest on Thursday of 11.8 feet that occurred in July 2011.

A breach that was made in the Riverton Valley Irrigation Canal on Friday and forcing flood waters back into the Wind River, helping to mitigate flood impacts downstream along the river, while complicating flooding issues for landowners along the RVID canal.

The Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River at Sinks Canyon is expected to reach its highest crest around 7.3 feet early Monday morning. Expect the Little Wind River, the Little Popo Agie River, and the Popo AgieRiver to also reach their highest stages Sunday and/or Monday.

U.S. Highway 26 remained closed between Diversion Dam Junction at Highway 287 and Kinnear due to flooding near milepost 104.

Charlie Griffin, who owns a farm along the Little Wind River southwest of Riverton, had sandbags piled around his house Saturday as water levels crept higher.

With water being pumped out of his basement, he had backup generators ready in case he needs to shut off his electricity. If that doesn't work, he also has gasoline-powered pumps on standby.

This is nothing new for Griffin. His family's acreage has flooded many times since his childhood.

"You don't know what you're going to need, but you do your best to prepare as much as you can," he said.

His fields are now completely flooded and he said he expects them to take a month to dry out.

"It just wrecks the fields. It really hurts the bacteria down there -- they need to breathe too, you know," he said. "It makes you wonder why the old timers thought they ought to build down by the river, but it's what I've got."

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