Just a heads up…. Its still early, but the extended inflow forecasts are looking pretty bleak. With the Wind River drainage reporting less than 50% snowpack and the Bighorn Basin around 70% and dropping, we could not only have a somewhat pathetic runoff, but worse, have it early. From a water perspective, this makes for a long summer.
Two issues have arisen that deserve attention. First, the BIA has requested that diversions to the Bighorn Canal begin next week. Second, revised inflow forecasts are starting to trend towards a drier April. Therefore, following the rule curves prescribed in the draft operating criteria, river releases will be reduced to 2,500cfs. It is worth noting that this is the second unannounced drop in river releases that has occurred within 48 hours after either a conference call or an issues group meeting this spring. On Monday, April 16 at 4pm, river releases will be reduced from 2,880cfs to 2,500cfs. As soon as official inflow forecasts numbers are provided, they will be posted on the bighornriver.org website, along with the expected end of month lake elevation. Notes: USGS has installed a new stream gage at Two Leggins, and its currently in service. At this time, it is only reporting river stage, but there are plans to have it report flow as well. Those of you who have asked for non-iPhone mobile access to river releases and lake elevation can now access a mobile version of the bighornriver.org website using this link: http://bighornriver.org/m
Bureau of Reclamation to Provide Flushing Flow below Yellowtail DamBILLINGS, MONT. — The Bureau of Reclamation will provide a flushing flow to the Bighorn River below Yellowtail Dam beginning Monday, April 9. The flushing flow is being coordinated with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks as part of a multi-year study aimed at restoring historic side channels and fish habitat in the Bighorn River.The flushing flow is scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, April 9, and be completed by 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 12. During the flush, flows in the Bighorn River will be stepped-up incrementally from the current flow of 2,880 cubic feet-per-second (cfs) to a maximum of about 7,000 cfs and held at that rate for approximately 12 hours before stepping incrementally back down. The maximum flow of 7,000 cfs is expected to occur on Tuesday, April 10 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. During the flushing flow, the river stage is expected to vary by approximately 2 feet.River recreationists are advised to exercise extra caution throughout the duration of the flush. For additional information, please contact Paula Holwegner of the Montana Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, at 406-247-7300.
The flushing flow of 7,000cfs that is needed to complete a geomorphic analysis of side-channels is still tentatively scheduled for April 9.Watch this site in the coming days for additional details.