Idaho Governor Butch Otter says residents facing possible springtime flooding aren't taking seriously what he calls a potential disaster.
Otter made a plea Wednesday for people to pay closer attention to the situation on the flooded Boise River.
“We’ve got to get the word out that this is a disaster waiting to happen. We don’t need people to add to it by getting on the river or getting on the river banks,” said Otter.
About a dozen state and federal officials at a news conference Wednesday in Boise described mountain snowpacks of more than double the average. They also outlined emergency plans and called on residents to be alert.
Most of the concern is focused along the Boise River due to a giant snowpack and dwindling space in three reservoirs. These are currently holding back destructive downstream flooding.
Jay Briendenbach with the National Weather Service says there’s two million acre feet of water trapped in the snow above Boise.
“Problem is there’s only about 300,000 acre feet of space left in the reservoirs. So that sounds troubling and it would be, without the flood control that’s going on right now,” said Briendenbach.
The Boise River is already above flood stage, and Governor Otter said there was a one in ten chance it will go higher, if conditions warrant. He and experts like Briendenbach said conditions are stable now, thanks to efforts to push more water down the river. But that could change.
“The flood controls should get us through without any higher releases, unless Mother Nature draws the wild card on us and we have some hot weather, say it hits 90 degrees. That’s happened before, record highs this time of year in the nineties,” said Briendenbach.
He says the high elevation snowpack is 150 percent of normal in the Boise Basin and there’s not enough room in the reservoirs right now for all that water if it melts.
Governor Otter says there is a small chance that Lucky Peak, Anderson Ranch and Arrow Rock reservoirs could be full by June. That could prompt the flow of water in the Boise River to go from its current 8,600 cubic feet per second, to 10,000 cfs.
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