UPDATE – Friday 1:30 p.m.
TWIN BRIDGES – Officials are planning a community meeting Saturday morning at 10 a.m. as temperatures are forecasted to drop again by the Sunday.
“The reason we’re going to have this is not only to discuss the last week’s event, but the upcoming forecast,” said Steve DiGiovanna, Madison County Communication Coordinator.
The meeting will be at the Twin Bridges High School Montana Room.
Warmer temperatures over the past few days has caused flood waters to recede and the river level to drop as the ice blocking the Beaverhead River loosened up. However, temperatures are forecasted to dip below zero again by Sunday night.
Ice jams are unpredictable and impossible to control, so DiGiovanna wants to get as much information out to residents as possible. Right now the dikes along the Beaverhead River have been reinforced and locations that were flooded along Bridge Street and at the Madison County Fair Grounds have temporary dikes around them, he said.
However, what officials can’t know is whether or not the dynamics that caused the Beaverhead to flood Tuesday morning are still in place and will lead to more flooding as the temperatures drop.
“Those ice jams are so tricky and they’re so dynamic and they change so often that there’s nothing you can really count on to happen,” DiGiovanna said.
UPDATE: Tuesday – Jan. 4 – 6 p.m.
TWIN BRIDGES – In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Pat Carroll’s neighbor knocked on her door worried about the rising river.
His dogs had been barking at the rising ice jam in the Beaverhead River, which is behind Carroll’s house on the other side of a levy.
The river was filled with ice and the water was rising. Sometime before daylight it crested the levy behind Carroll’s house and began to flood into part of town.
All day Tuesday emergency responders from Twin Bridges and around the county have been trying to keep the water at bay by reinforcing the levies, pumping water and sandbagging.
Jessen Park in Twin Bridges is closed, as is one parking lot at the school. The water is near the gym, but so far hasn’t flooded the building, said Steve DiGiovanna, communications coordinator for Madison County.
As of Tuesday evening, the water was beginning to recede a bit, but it was still against her house, Carroll said.
Emergency workers had dug a hole in her backyard to capture the water and piled dirt along her portion of the levy, she said.
Her concern is more for the volunteer workers.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Carroll said. “I just worry about people getting hurt or frost bit or something or slipping along the bank.”
The Madison County Fairgrounds also experienced some flooding, she said. Tuesday afternoon workers were busy at the fairgrounds sandbagging around buildings.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Ennis and Twin Bridges for flooding due to ice jamming in the Madison and Beaverhead Rivers. The agency as also issued a flood watch for the Beaverhead River in Twin Bridges.
The main issue with ice jams is their unpredictability, said Dave Williamson with the National Weather Service in Great Falls.
Since it’s the ice in the river that causes the jam, it can be a volatile situation, he said. A chunk of ice can stop up the river and cause a rapid rise or one can loosen up and cause the river level to fall.
People have to keep in mind that the water keeps flowing down the river and putting pressure on the ice, so it’s hard to predict what will happen.
“It’s a pretty tricky deal,” Williamson said.
The weather forecast is also going to keep the ice in place for sometime, he said.
“Looks like the flood warning is going to be in effect for awhile yet,” Williamson said.
In Ennis, the Madison River has gorged and pushed water over its east banks and over fields between Ennis and Jeffers. In one area the water is flooding over U.S. Highway 287. Signs warn drivers to use caution and be prepared to stop.
In Twin Bridges briefings were planned for Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning and an emergency crew would be keeping watch over the situation Tuesday night, DiGiovanna said.
For more information, call Twin Bridges Town Hall at 684-5243.