Sublette County preparing for any flooding

Cali O'Hare file photo

PINEDALE – Temperatures in Sublette County will eventually rise, melting the heavy blanket of snow covering communities across the region and creating the potential for flooding.

While it may seem like the region has experienced plenty of snowfall this winter, the Upper Green River drainage is currently sitting at 108 percent of normal, according to the SNOTEL map published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on March 29.

Preparations are already underway in Sublette County in case significant flooding does take place later this spring or summer, said Jim Mitchell, Sublette County Emergency Management coordinator.

Sublette County Emergency Management and its partners at the local, state and federal levels actively monitor changing weather conditions and how they might affect flooding each year, Mitchell added. Plans and equipment to manage floods are in place regardless of whether the snowpack is below or above average, he continued.

Each week, the Sublette County Emergency Services group convenes to assess potential risks like flooding. The group collaborates with surrounding counties and state and federal agencies like the National Weather Service, Wyoming Department of Transportation, the U.S. Forest Service and the USDA’s snow telemetry, or SNOTEL, network, Mitchell said.

Sublette County Emergency Management and other agencies are watching snowmelt at both low elevations and in the high country, events that may not occur simultaneously, Mitchell remarked.

Sublette County acquired a “considerable amount of sandbags” and sand this year to “protect public infrastructure” and to help alleviate “nuisance flooding” at residences and businesses, Mitchell said. Nuisance flooding refers to localized inundation that does not pose a serious threat to public safety or infrastructure.

The county is also training specific employees to operate the three-chute, multibagger sandbag machine, Mitchell noted.

Mitchell encouraged home and business owners to get out ahead of the problem and do what they can to mitigate nuisance flooding on their property. This includes moving snow away from structures, like garages, and routing snowmelt away from buildings by creating alternative drainages, Mitchell said.

Preparation can also involve talking to neighbors and people that have lived in Sublette County for a long time to obtain tips on flood mitigation, Mitchell added.

Mitchell also urged property owners to review their flood insurance policies, paying close attention to what is and is not covered by the policy.

Sand and bags are available to Sublette County residents able to fill and transport them in both Pinedale and Marbleton. People are asked to make a request through Sublette County Emergency Management by calling 307-367-2284 or the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office at 307-367-6593.

Questions regarding flood mitigation can also be directed to Sublette County Emergency Management.

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