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By Sam Wilson
24 May 2018

(Billings Gazette) – The Yellowstone River in Billings is expected to crest nearly 18 inches above its all-time record flood stage next week, according to updated forecasts released Thursday.

The forecast represents a substantially more dire scenario than the flooding expectations on the river that had been forecast just one day earlier, and has sent Yellowstone County officials scrambling to prepare for the river to hit major flood stage in Billings for the first time since record-keeping began.

Forecasts now anticipate the Yellowstone will reach its minor flood stage of 13.5 feet by Monday, and then rise to 16.4 feet late Tuesday or early Wednesday. "Major flood stage" at the river's gauge in Billings is classified as the point at which it reaches 15.5 feet.

The all-time record of 15 feet was set in June 1997.

"If we've got a foot and a half above that, there's going to be a lot of people in a lot of places that have literally never seen (flood) water before," said Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Brad Shoemaker, speaking to county and city officials during a meeting at the county courthouse Thursday afternoon.

Heavy rainfall coupled with warm weather accelerating high-elevation snowmelt in south-central Montana had already prompted minor flooding this week in several rivers and streams that flow into the Yellowstone. [more]

Record flooding expected in Billings next week as Yellowstone River rises


BILLINGS, Montana, 25 May 2018 (KTVQ) – Yellowstone County emergency management officials will start handing out sandbags and sand at 8 p.m. Friday night countywide to prepare for major flooding over the next several days.

These are the locations:

  • Huntley Fire Station 65 Northern Ave.
  • Worden Fire Station 2463 Main St.
  • Blue Creek Fire Station 2504 Blue Creek Road
  • Laurel Soccer Field located at Fir Avenue and East Maryland Lane
  • Amend Park in Billings

Officials said 50,000 sandbags will be distributed at the site. Another 25,000 have been ordered and will be picked up tomorrow.

Emergency management officials warn that flooding will likely start Sunday nights in small creeks, including Canyon, Blue, Alkali and Pryor. The county's Emergency Operations Center is open and will be staffed 12 hours a day until the rain arrives, which is when staffing will increase.

Officials are urging additional precautions for people whose property floods:

  • Unplug appliances to prevent electrical shock when power comes back on.
  • Do not drive or walk across flooded roads. Cars and people can be swept away.
  • Gather emergency supplies and follow local radio or TV updates.
  • When power lines are down, water is in your home, or before you evacuate, TURN OFF gas, power, and water.

The Yellowstone and Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone are both expected to rise to record levels over the next several days. [more]

Yellowstone County handing out sandbags tonight to prepare for major flooding

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