Flooding

ZapWizard / Flickr

Following the destructive spring flooding that stemmed from Idaho’s severe winter, federal disaster aid is available to five counties throughout the southern part of the state.


Idaho Fish and Game

After neighborhoods in Hailey flooded earlier this year, leaders in the community are now looking at mitigation measures to prevent the water from rising too high in the future.

Safeguarding the Della View neighborhood from another big flood is a top priority. Some of the proposals up for discussion include raising or lowering certain parts of city streets, elevating homes in flood-prone areas, improving storm drain infrastructure and building berms along the Big Wood River channel.

Blaine County Sheriff / Facebook

The Big Wood River again rose above flood stage this week. It’s the fifth time since early May. Damage assessments from the devastating flood season are finally set to get underway.

State and federal emergency management officials will meet with county and city leaders in the Wood River Valley the week of June 26 to examine the toll spring flooding took on infrastructure in the region.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

It’s Mid-May, I’m at the Boise airport, hopping in a Cessna with pilot Don Reiman and Kevin Lewis, the director of Idaho Rivers United. We’re going to “fly the flood,” to see what the swollen rivers and reservoirs look like from the air, especially along the Boise and Big Wood rivers.

There has been months of flooding on Idaho rivers, with a reservoir system that’s been straining at capacity, as the deep winter snowpack has slowly melted off. Now, in the second half of June, the floodwaters are receding.

Don sketches out the flight path.

Catherine Chanel / Flickr

As floodwaters in the Wood River Valley recede, residents and officials are getting their first look at damage caused by a season of high water.

For six weeks the Big Wood River has inundated parts of Hailey. With summer just days away, the high spring flows are finally ebbing. As the river recedes, damage to homes, roads and electrical equipment that was underwater is finally coming into view.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise River, which has been over flood stage for months, will drop below that level Thursday. The river has dropped dramatically this week.

The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been dropping the amount of water released into the river all week. The river started dropping over the weekend, then fell 500 cubic feet per second on Tuesday and 1,000 cfs on Wednesday.

It will drop another 500 cfs Thursday morning. That will drop the river level at the Glenwood Bridge to 6,750 cfs, that brings it below flood stage which is 7,000 cfs.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

As long as significant rain doesn’t fall this weekend, the amount of water flowing into the Boise River could begin going down next week. But before that happens, officials are asking people to closely monitor things in case flooding gets worse.

Warmer weather this week has pushed Lucky Peak Dam to 88 percent capacity, while the upstream Arrowrock and Anderson Ranch Reservoirs are 98 and 99 percent full.

Zoo Boise

Zoo Boise is worried about the safety of its animals, as flood waters continue to rise along the Boise River. The city, which owns the zoo, is building a "Muscle Wall" to keep the water back. The flood barrier will be 2,000-feet-long and two-to-four feet tall.

City engineers say it will be similar to the flood barrier that was built to protect a gravel pit near Eagle Island.

Boise River Garden City whitewater
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise River is running at some of the highest levels seen so far this season. Along with flooding around Eagle Island State Park, the river is also causing problems in Garden City.

Water managers say they have no plans to lessen the flow of the Boise River anytime soon. With temperatures expected to top out around a hundred tomorrow in Boise and conditions looking to be toasty across much of southern Idaho, lots of mountain snow will melt. That means more runoff coming into the reservoir system.

Mookie Forcella / Flickr

With flooding affecting much of southern Idaho this spring, the National Weather Service revised its predictions on just how high the Big Wood River will rise.

Last week, the Weather Service projected the Big Wood reaching a peak of 7.88 ft. on Friday. While it didn’t get that high – the river topped out at 7.57 feet that day – meteorologists expect the river to approach the record of 7.93 ft. Tuesday.

Boise Police Department

The Boise River is rising again, to what officials say will be the highest levels so far this year.

Flows from the Lucky Peak Dam will go up Friday morning. An additional 500 cubic feet per second of water will be released. That will bring the flow to 9,300 cfs at the Glenwood Bridge gauge. That’s the highest flow this Spring since officials started pushing more and more water through the river to make room for melting snow in the mountains above Boise.

Blaine County Sheriff / Facebook

Officials in Blaine County are telling residents water levels in the Big Wood River will rise again.  

Cooler temperatures and a momentary reprieve from flooding in the Wood River Valley are being called “the eye of the hurricane.” Speaking to a group at the Community Campus, Hailey City Councilman Don Keirn invoked the imagery while reminding people there's still plenty of snow yet to melt in the mountains.

Roger Phillips / Idaho Department of Fish and Game

It’s that time of year, when the quiet Nampa Fish Hatchery starts delivering thousands of mostly rainbow trout around the state for anglers to catch. But high water means some of that prime fishing will have to wait.

Each year, Idaho Fish and Game stocks more than 22 million fish from 12 different hatcheries into lakes, reservoirs and ponds. Most of the 18 species of fish are rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Wood River Valley residents continued to battle floodwaters over the weekend. Officials distributed sandbags as worried residents moved to fortify their homes throughout Blaine County. 

The Big Wood River continued to rush along at flood-level stages. The river hit a peak level on Friday night, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began reinforcing the Broadford levee in Bellevue. On Saturday, Governor Butch Otter arrived in Hailey to meet with local officials.

Each day, librarian Randy Kemp has seen Warm Springs Creek rise and rise by his Ketchum home.

Boise River, Flooding
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Boise River levels will be on the rise again next week. Officials  with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation hope that by increasing it from 8,900 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 9,500 now, they can reduce the risk of more severe flooding later this spring.

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