WEST GLACIER - High water levels, debris, and extremely cold temperatures are leading to dangerous conditions on the Flathead River.
“It’s incredibly dangerous to be out there right now, even to the point where we’re keeping our boats off the water unless we have to do a rescue or recovery, or there’s a necessity to check water levels in a specific area,” Flathead County Undersheriff Wayne DuBois told MTN News.
Undersheriff DuBois said debris the size of full-length trees is churning down the Flathead River as the water runs fast and high.
“Sometimes visibly but not always visibly, so sometimes they’re under the water, and the problem is if you get caught on that, that could roll you under even with a life vest and there’s not much you can do about it,” said Dubois.
Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Company run tours primarily on the middle fork of the Flathead River. Communications Director Lilian Langston said they’re accessing river conditions daily and have raised age restrictions and even canceled certain rafting trips until conditions improve.
“Safety is always the number one priority and things are constantly changing, so we look at those changing conditions, and we kind of go from there, every day is different,” said Langston.
Undersheriff DuBois said river conditions look to remain dangerous for the foreseeable future as mountain snowpack continues to melt.
“What we’re hoping for is that things are going to basically peak today, possibly tomorrow, but even then, it’s going to be gradual so, the water levels are going to be up for some time,” said DuBois.