| March 10
March 10 Floods that washed out rural roads in
central Montana left hundreds of people stranded on Monday and
forced the evacuation of 30 homes in one small town, as
forecasts predicted more rain and snow that could worsen
conditions in the region.
The flooding, which saw water begin streaming over rural
roadways near the ranching community of Roundup during the
weekend, came as warmer-than-usual temperatures rapidly melted
deep snows amid recent storms that brought abundant rains,
weather forecasters said.
Floods also threatened to inundate three towns in
north-central Wyoming where vast ice formations blocked the flow
of the Bighorn River and caused it to spill from its banks.
In Montana, a network of dirt roads linking rural Montana
neighborhoods and ranches outside of Roundup were submerged in
water or washed out by Monday, making them impassable, said Tara
Gates, volunteer with the Musselshell County Disaster and
Governor Steve Bullock declared a flood emergency, allowing
him to mobilize Montana National Guard troops and direct other
resources to affected communities, and local authorities
scrambled to devise plans to deliver food and supplies to an
estimated 400 people who were cut off by the flooding.
Some 30 houses in Roundup, a town of 2,000 residents about
50 miles (80 km) north of Billings, were evacuated and dozens of
people were warned to prepare for evacuating at a moment's
notice as rapid melting of mountain snows and ice jams force the
swollen Musselshell River to overflow its banks, Gates said.
"It just kind of happened overnight. At first we had water
slowly coming in and then everything that could break loose
did," she said.
It is the second time in three years that Roundup has faced
severe flooding. Hundreds of residents were displaced and dozens
of homes in Roundup were destroyed in 2011 during historic
flooding in the Missouri River basin.
Conditions could worsen in coming days as a pair of Pacific
storm fronts are expected to bring more rain and snow to central
Montana and elsewhere in the Northern Rockies, said Chauncy
Schultz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office
Volunteers in Roundup used sandbags to combat rising waters,
which eroded portions of earthen flood-control dikes on some
reaches of the raging Musselshell, a tributary of the Missouri
Montana has 30 counties under a flood warning, watch or
advisory, according to the governor's office.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed teams of
inspectors to assess levees that protect the north-central
Wyoming communities of Worland, Manderson and Greybull from
flooding by the Bighorn River, the Corps said in a statement on
Flooding caused by ice jams has sent water into several
neighborhoods in Worland and pushed water and ice within 3 feet
of overtopping a federal levee in Greybull, Corps officials
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho, Editing by Alex
Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker)