THE WATCHERS 5-23-17 LMS
River watching and trying to guess seasonal flooding impacts from the undammed flows of the Salmon River is part of this valley’s custom and culture
The earliest date on the National Weather Service high-water ranking is one month short of being 101 years old. It is an entry of 6.84 feet occurring in June of 1916. Of the 42 high water events listed, 1916 is the 41st highest. Flood stage on the Salmon is 7.5 feet.
Not too surprising to ardent river watchers is the fact that of the top ten high-water marks nine occurred during the Winter. Number ten was in June of 1974 when the water on the Salmon Gage reached 8.67 feet. Number nine was 8.69 feet in February of 1963. Number eight was 8.9 feet in February of 1956. Number seven was an 8.05 in February of 1932. In January of 1984 the river crested at 9 feet. In February of 1949 the river topped the nine foot mark and registered a 9.07. The fourth highest reading was in December of 1983 at 9.5 feet. In January of 1973 the reading was 9.6 feet. The second highest reading came in January of 1942 at 9.62 and the all-time highest reading in the one hundred plus years of record keeping was the 10.33 foot crest reached in February of 1985.
With the exception of an April reading registering 7.16 feet in 2012, the remainder of summertime high water marks listed were reached in either May or June, nine in May and 17 events in June. Of the 15 wintertime high-water marks there were two listed in December, seven occurred in January and six happened in February.
The figures can be found on the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service web page at http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=mso&gage=smni1
The information was shared with the Lemhi County Commissioners at their May 22nd meeting by City/County Building Administrator Gary Goodman.
So far in 2017 the highest mark the river has reached is 8.39 feet. With a little over six months remaining in the year and the traditional high-water month of June approaching residents are eyeing the snow load at upper elevations and wondering what the unpredictable River of No Return will do next.
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