Officials use advanced flood maps ahead of reservoir release

Officials prep for potential flooding.

BOISE - A historic winter has led to historic snowpack, and we've seen the result of that snowpack melting all across Valley. Portions of the Greenbelt have been under water for the last month and parking lots were closed because of flooding. 

"That snowpack is what's feeding these high flows on the rivers as it melts now," said Jay Breidenbach, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

To prepare for even more snow melt accelerated by warm temperatures, water managers will be increasing the flows of the Boise River from 8,800 cubic feet per second up to 9,500 cfs. 

"Hopefully that'll be enough to at least maintain a little bit of control space in the reservoirs in case we need that later," Breidenbach said.

RELATED: Boise River flows to increase again

This release will raise the levels on the river between four and eight inches depending on where you are along the river.

"So that water is going to start creeping just a little further away from the river," Breidenbach said. "We're right on target this year to have peak flows in the Boise River, the only difference is this year they're much higher than they normally would be."

So what does that mean for you? Officials are using inundation maps to see which areas will be impacted at a particular flow.

"We've modeled how deep the water will be and where it will go at 9,500 cubic feet per second and as you can see it's definitely out of its banks," said Breidenbach.

There is some good news: Cooler temperatures will be rolling in.
 
"It's going to be below-normal temperatures, so Idaho may have just drawn the lucky card with this cold weather slowing the snowmelt," said Breidenbach.

This will buy time for officials to release more water over time, before it warms back up again. 

"There's a cost for letting these high flows out through town but it's insurance against a really big flow later in the year," Breidenbach said.

Breidenbach says federal and local agencies have been working on this balancing act for months now.

"Everybody needs to have a common operating picture of what's going on so the best decisions can be made to protect life and property along the river," said Breidenbach.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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