With temperatures forecasted to be in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s by the middle of next week, the potential for flooding will rise, especially with the lingering low-elevation snowpack from a record-setting February in Jackson. The National Weather Service in Riverton has issued a Hydrologic Outlook stating that snowmelt below the 8,000’ elevation is expected to increase steadily Tuesday 3/19 through Thursday 3/21 of next week.
“Although this isn’t a Flood Watch or Flood Warning, it is something that property owners should take heed of,” says Rich Ochs, Coordinator for Teton County Emergency Management. “This will likely be the first of several rounds of warm-up that will accelerate snowmelt and may cause flooding.”
Teton County Emergency Management recommends that residents and businesses consider the following as we head into our first warm-up of the spring:
- Have a plan: Look at your property for low lying areas and piles of snow that could melt and cause problems and mitigate those issues now. Talk with your neighbors and develop a neighborhood plan for responding to flooding such as sandbagging.
- Clear culverts, ditches, and storm drains now: Common culprits in overland sheet flooding are blocked culverts, overflowing ditches, and plugged storm drains. Clear ice jams from culverts, remove debris from ditches, and make sure storm drains are free of ice and snow.
- Know where to get info: Sign up for Emergency Management’s Nixle notification service (text TETON_WY to 888777) and frequently check current weather and flood information at www.weather.gov/riw. Learn more about floods by visiting www.ready.gov/floods and follow Teton County Emergency Management on Facebook for flood preparedness tips at www.facebook.com/teton.wy.ema.
- Get financially prepared: Flooding is the most common and destructive natural disaster in the United States. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do in the face of rising flood waters. Talk with your insurance agent now about your coverage and ask about flood insurance. Teton County and the Town of Jackson both participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, allowing residents and businesses to purchase flood insurance in our area. Even if you aren’t required to buy flood insurance, you can still get a policy, and usually at a much-reduced premium. Policies typically take 30 days to go into effect, so now is the time to talk to your agent. Learn more about flood insurance by visitingwww.floodsmart.gov.
Sandbags will be made available for residents for flood-fighting purposes by Monday 3/18/19 at the Town of Jackson Public Works Yard at 450 W Snow King Ave. and at the Teton County Road & Levee Yard at 3190 Adams Canyon Dr. Residents are responsible for filling, transporting, building dikes, and disposing of sandbags. “Sandbagging is hard work. If you don’t know what you’re doing, we recommend consulting with an excavation contractor or landscape company for advice,” says Ochs. Visit https://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Flood-Assistance/ to access sandbagging and other flood fight information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
On the tail of a historic February, this first warm-up could cause some areas to see flooding that haven’t before. Those that live near active or abandoned irrigation ditches, ephemeral streams, or other low-lying areas are advised to remain vigilant through next week and any subsequent warm-ups. With the ground still frozen, overland sheet flooding that isn’t near any waterway is also a possibility.
“My best advice to people in regard to this year’s runoff is to not let your guard down,” says Ochs.