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Flooding potential for Teton and Lincoln counties over the next few days

Jim Fahey

As temperatures continue to warm, some flooding is expected in parts of Wyoming after an extreme winter with lots of snow.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the 50 and 60s West of the Continental Divide, which they say could cause some flooding in lower elevations of Teton and Lincoln counties through May 3.

Jim Fahey, a professional hydrologist, said flooding risk has to do with weather conditions and timing.

“I've seen years where we've had lower than average snowpack, or average snowpack, and it rained on top of it at the wrong time, and we've had floods,” Fahey said. “And I've seen years that we've had super duper snowpack and it just melted and it came down nice and easy.”

But, if temperatures warm up quickly and snow melts rapidly that could be a concern, especially in areas with high snowpack.

Fahey said one of the worst scenarios is when there is warm weather and the snow starts to melt and then shortly after there is also a rain event.

“You have two types of runoff, you have snowmelt runoff, combined with rainfall runoff and when they combine together it creates a lot of runoff and then it creates some problems,” he said.

Other areas of moderate to high risk for flooding in the state include the Little Snake, the Upper Bear and Encampment watersheds, which are all in southern and southwest wyoming. There is a moderate potential for flooding across the Upper North Platte, southern Little Wind and Salt Basins.

Fahey said the flood risks can change as weather conditions change. He added that snowmelt typically continues through early July in Wyoming. Last year, flooding caused significant damage to Yellowstone National Park.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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