May 24, 2023 |

Photo – North Platte River – Bigfoot99 file photo

The Carbon County Office of Emergency Management held its bi-weekly flooding up-date call with local communities last night.

The online meeting began with National Weather Service Warning Coordination Manager Jared Allen updating attendees on this week’s weather, including pending conditions. Allen said scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected throughout the week. The rain will contribute to increase snow melt in both the North Platte and Little Snake River Valleys.

Saratoga continues to be in flood action stage. According to the National Weather Service, action stage on the North Platte River begins when the water reaches five and a half feet above normal. Saratoga’s emergency manager, Sgt. Tyler Christen said the river was sitting at 7.8 feet on Tuesday. Allen said Sinclair is now in action stage as well. In Saratoga, the North Platte is expected to reach minor flood stage of eight and a half feet, but Allen didn’t know when. He said the changing forecasts keep pushing the high-water date farther back. The North Platte was expected to reach minor flood stage last week.

Allen said the Little Snake River is expected to fluctuate between action stage and minor flooding. The National Weather Service considers the Little Snake River to be in the minor flooding stage when waters reach nine and a half feet above normal. Allen said the river is holding steady between nine and nine and a half feet, but he expects it to reach the minor flooding stage by next week.

The National Weather Service Warning Coordination Manager said the Upper North Platte River and Little Snake River basins are still showing slightly above average snowpack for this time of year. The snow has been releasing in waves, slowly and then quickly. Allen said the alternating melting speeds have helped keep the rivers from overflowing.

Allen said the North Platte and Little Snake Rivers typically reach their highest point by the second week of June. He said the forecasting data indicates that is still the expected outcome.

Baggs and Saratoga are the two towns most likely to experience flooding and any associated damage.

During the call, Baggs Emergency Manager Jared Wille said the Little Snake River was lower than it had been over the weekend. Wille said he has plenty of sandbags. The Baggs emergency manager said he will continue to monitor the river, but he had no concerns.

Sgt. Christen said the North Platte River is keeping track with National Weather Service predictions. He said Saratoga has plenty of sandbags available for residents of the town and county. Sgt. Christen said low lying fields upstream will collect some of the flood water before it reaches town. Otherwise, he said he had no concerns.

Elk Mountain Mayor Morgan Irene said his town is not experiencing any flooding.

Because of the increasing flood risk, Carbon County Emergency Manager Lenny Layman has included a representative from Black Hills Energy on the bi-weekly calls. Chris Mullen is the Gas Operations Supervisor in Rawlins. Mullen said he would quickly shut off the gas to flood damaged structures so his crews could remain out of the way during rescue efforts.

Layman and the Office of Emergency Management will continue to host the coordination calls twice a week while flooding remains a possibility. All the town emergency managers said they were confident with their preparations. The next flooding coordinator call is scheduled for Friday, May 26th.

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