SHERIDAN — Sheridan area emergency response leaders are prepped and ready for potential flooding in the area, which depends heavily on rainfall forecast this weekend.
“One thing is that we’re melting, but we’ve got trouble coming this weekend,” said Steve Small, Sheridan County Local Emergency Planning Committee Chair. “The National Weather Service isn’t sure what it’s going to be, but (Wednesday) afternoon they issued a hazardous weather outlook saying that this weekend’s storm may bring significant precipitation to our area.”
Last weekend, residents of the Downer Addition saw some flooding and retrieved sand bags from the Sheridan County Fairgrounds to help alleviate and prevent damage.
Small said creek channels froze, and that combined with water from melting snow in the mountains caused the water levels to flow above and beyond the banks of the creek.
To help the community with alleviating water damage due to flooding, the LEPC provides sandbags throughout the flooding season to citizens. They can be picked up at the fairgrounds.
“[The Community Emergency Response Team] is on call in case it gets to that point and we have to start manning the station,” Small said. “They’ll be the ones to take over from there.”
Areas within Sheridan County, overall, have the lowest snowpack levels in the state.
“The nice thing is, right now, the Tongue River Basin snowpack is the lowest in the state,” Small said. “So barring a rapid runoff event in the spring, spring flooding shouldn’t be much of a problem.”
A map showing the statewide spring snowmelt flood potential outlook shows the majority of the Sheridan area with less than a 20 percent chance of flood potential at the basin areas of the county.
While snowpack levels are low, this weekend’s projected rainfall might pose issues. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts rain and wet snow this weekend, which could increase flood potential.
“Snow melt impacts continue into the weekend,” the NOAA application hydrologic warning said. “Water flowing into creeks and streams will increase the potential for ice jam formation and flooding. Ice jam flooding has already been reported this week. As the ground thaws, muddy roads may strand vehicles and impede or cut off travel in some rural areas.”
NOAA suggests land and livestock owners move equipment and livestock out of low-lying areas and away from waterways.