floods

Melodie Edwards

This spring, rivers were overflowing banks all over the state.  Some rivers saw record—or near-record—flood stages.  The Laramie River hit its second highest flood level on record, and that’s only four years after its highest on record in 2010.  But floods aren’t all sandbagging and property damage: they also mean plenty of water for the long dry summer ahead. 

Roger Barber

Wyoming reservoirs have been spilling over with run-off from the heavy snowpack.  But Bureau of Reclamation area manager Coleman Smith says they’re doing their job—capturing flood waters to reduce damage downstream. 

He says when the flood waters hit Buffalo Bill Reservoir it was touch and go for a while.  “We were actually releasing 400,000 cubic feet a second out of--it was going through Cody—which is a tremendous amount of water.  And the Emergency Manager up there for Park County was keeping a close eye on it.”

SFC McGuire

Flooding may lead to evacuations in some Wyoming communities this week. Rapid snowmelt and heavy rain have brought the North Platte and Laramie rivers to flood levels.  Kelly Ruiz with Wyoming Homeland Security says Saratoga, on the west side of the Snowy Range, will be hardest hit.

“Right now, the National Weather Service is predicting that the North Platte River at Saratoga, they’re predicting it to be at 10.58 on Friday.  And that’s a record level of water.  The previous record was set in 2011 at 10.49.”

Ice jams in the Bighorn River have caused flooding, which in turn caused damage to several homes and businesses in northern Wyoming. High snowpack could bring more floods this spring. Troy Staples is the business preparedness manager for the Red Cross in Wyoming and Colorado. He teaches business owners how to be prepared in case natural disasters or other catastrophes strike their businesses. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov spoke with him. She asked why it’s so hard to re-open after a disaster.

Some businesses have been damaged by the flooding of the Bighorn River in northern Wyoming, and the Red Cross is encouraging other companies to develop plans in case more flooding comes with spring snow melt.

Troy Staples is the Red Cross Business Preparedness Manager for Wyoming and Colorado. He says up to 40-percent of businesses don’t re-open after a disaster.  

Walt Hubis / Flickr - Creative Commons

The floods in Colorado could cause a spike in hay prices, which could be good and bad news for Wyoming ranchers.

Many Colorado ranchers lost their season’s hay supply in the deluges that swept across the eastern plains.  And that means many Colorado ranchers will likely turn to Wyoming hay producers to feed their livestock through the winter, if they have livestock left to feed.

Brett Moline with the Wyoming Farm Bureau says this might cause the price of hay to rise on the market.