We’ve had another three days of heavy rain. This is the second rain storm in the last ten days, which is very unusual for southern Montana. There is flooding in most of the small feeder streams that flow into the Bighorn. Even the Bighorn River itself is off-color due to the flooding situation. Lime Kiln Creek and Grapevine Creek are dumping mud into Afterbay Reservoir. For you Bighorn River veterans, you know that it is extremely rare for the Bighorn to be muddy below Afterbay Dam, but we saw it today. Warman Creek, a small stream that runs into the irrigation canal near 3-Mile Access has overflowed its banks and has caused the irrigation canal to overflow the bridge (see picture above). There are concerns it might wash out the bridge completely. Mountain Pocket Creek, which flows into the river near the Bighorn Club (seven miles below Afterbay) is high and muddy. Soap Creek is a raging torrent, threatening to wash Keiler’s corrals away. It has already destroyed one of their livestock sheds.
The rain is supposed to continue through tonight (5/21) and abate sometime tomorrow. For those of you who have guide trips scheduled for the next three days, you might call the Bighorn Trout Shop if you haven’t been contacted already. The Bighorn clears very rapidly once the rain stops, so don’t panic if your schedule trip is a week away.
The Bureau of Reclamation has reduced Bighorn River flows to 6,500 cfs in order to relieve the flooding situation downstream. Once the small streams come down, we can expect Bighorn River flows to be raised back up.