As Snowpack Melts, Flooding Could Become Major Problem

Mar 21, 2017

Flooding in Lusk caused a bridge to collapse in 2015.
Credit Wyoming Department of Transportation

Wyoming has already seen ice jam flooding this winter on the Bighorn River, and flood watches and warnings have been issued for communities around the Western Mountains in the last few weeks. With sustained warm temperatures and high snowpack, flooding could continue to be a problem this spring.

Diana Herrera is the senior flood insurance specialist with FEMA Region 8, which encompasses the Rocky Mountain West. She said people should be aware of their risk for flooding, and that there are a number of things that can reduce that risk.

“You can use sandbags. You can make yourself a temporary levee with Visqueen and plywood and sand to help give you a little barrier around the house. So there are a number of opportunities you can use to help reduce the risk for flooding. Right now we just don’t know what it’s going to do,” said Herrera.

And if Herrera said purchasing flood insurance, which is sold separately from homeowners or renters insurance, could take a while.

“There’s also a thirty day wait period in order to buy flood insurance. So if you see the water coming down the creek you’re too late. So talk to your insurance agent, get a quote, get your policy in place before the rest of that snow pack comes down,” said Herrera.

Herrera said it’s difficult to predict what will happen with the snowpack, but that it could be similar to 2011 when the state saw extensive flooding. To find your flood zone risk, visit www.floodfind.com.