Rising rivers bring risk of flooding


MISSOULA, Mont. - With warmer weather sticking around and highs expected to be in the 80s this weekend, experts are keeping a close eye on area rivers.

Weather experts tell NBC Montana the Yaak River in far northwest Montana is their biggest concern right now. They say that could hit flood stage as early as Friday.

We're told the Flathead River near Columbia Falls and Kalispell could reach flood stage by Monday.  The Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers are also on that watch list.

Hydrologist Ray Nickless, with the National Weather Service, tells us it may be nice out but not to get too anxious -- May is not the right time to be on the river.

"End of June, July that's a good time to be on the water," said Nickless.  "When snowmelt is kicking up…the river's just so cold and running so high it's pretty dangerous."

Nickless said any flooding that occurs won't be too major, so he says not to panic but certainly be cautious if you're going to spend an afternoon by the river.

"For just the average person it's kind of a dangerous time to be on the river just because if you tip over, get in that water, it's going to be freezing cold and that's not a good deal," said Nickless.

Tune into NBC Montana and check for the latest weather conditions from our First Alert weather team.

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