With all the snow we had this season, a grand total of nearly 118 inches of snowfall at my location north of the airport in Driggs, it seemed like just a matter of time before the spring melt brought rising water and the threat of flooding to Teton Valley. But the colder temperatures lingered, especially at night, and the melt was mercifully slow, nothing the rivers and creeks couldn’t handle with ease. At last report, Friday, natural stream flow in the Teton River was just 92% of average.
That isn’t to say we are out of the woods yet. Much of the water we get from the spring melt is still locked up in the mountains as high elevation snow cover. As of last week we still had over three quarters of the winter’s peak snow pack left in the mountains overall, but once again around Teton Valley we are blessed with much less. Less than one fourth of the peak snow water equivalent is still on Pine Creek Pass and Island Park. These slowly warming springs may be frustrating to us gardeners, campers, and hikers, but from a flooding point of view, this is just what the doctor ordered.
Not all of Southeast Idaho is as fortunate as Teton Valley. By the time this is published, the warming temperatures should keep even locations as high as 9000 feet above freezing at night. This will increase the melt and raise the level of all the area rivers and streams in general, but the Big Wood River and the Big Lost River look to be impacted to the point of flooding late in the week. The Portneuf and Blackfoot rivers will rise too, but should hold below flood stage. The Henry’s Fork river will be impacted later next week and could still reach flood stage. The effects of cooler temperatures next week will be offset by heavier precipitation in the forecast. Keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best. The best is what we’ve had so far this spring here in this wonderful little valley. Even the voles love it!