Flash flood watch in effect for parts of SW Idaho

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by Andrea Lutz and KTVB.COM

NWCN.com

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 11:44 AM

BOISE – The National Weather Service has canceled a Flash Flood Warning for parts of Boise and Ada counties as of 10:57 a.m.

The service reports no significant flooding in areas at risk, including Boise, Garden City, Aldape Summit, Bogus Basin ski area, Hidden Springs, and other foothills locations

A power outage near the Boise Towne Square Mall related to the storm had over 600 customers without power as of 10:15 a.m., including parts of the mall.

Lynette Berriochoa with Idaho Power say power was restored to all customers near the mall at approximately 10:40 a.m.

KTVB Meteorologist Larry Gebert says flooding in mountain areas remains a safety issue. Those who live near streams, gulches, and dry creeks should monitor the rainfall and be ready to leave quickly if flood waters rise.

Residents throughout the Treasure Valley should expect rainfall throughout Tuesday afternoon, with the possibility of more thunderstorms into the evening.

FLASH FLOOD WATCH THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT

A flash-flood watch is in effect for much of the Treasure Valley through Tuesday evening, and includes areas recently burned by wildfire within the Boise and Payette national forests.

The Flash Flood Watch goes into effect late Monday night and continues into Tuesday evening for areas that include the Boise and West Central Mountains.

As the predicted rains start to sweep in, fire officials worry about what the water will do to areas already burned by fire in the summer of 2013.

“If they get a lot of rain fall there is some areas that has some steep terrain that it did burn pretty severely and that we could see some of those flooding concerns,” said Mallory Eils with Boise District Bureau of Land Management.

FLOOD RISK INCREASES WITH FIRE

The Elk and Pony Complex fires and the Little Queens fire draw a big concern, according to Eils. She says there's two reasons for that, and the first is lack of vegetation in burned areas.

“In areas that it burned really hot, the soil has been damaged and it can actually be water repellent, and so it doesn’t absorb as much of the water from a rain storm, and that will increase that risk of flooding,” she told KTVB.

Last year after the Trinity Ridge Fire was finally controlled and contained, crews did their best to minimize the damage by using stabilization treatments near the small towns of Pine and Featherville.

Terry Hardy with the U.S. Forest Service told KTVB back in October of 2012 that a major focus was to protect roads and trails before the winter hit, so those pathways would still functional the next spring.

FLASH FLOOD RISKS

However, from a safety standpoint, residents should know flash floods can be very dangerous and  happen suddenly.

Idaho's Chief Meteorologist Rick Lantz said the recent flood warning area includes areas where Idaho's biggest fires have already burned.

“It’s going to rush right down the hill, and of course it’s going to go right into the ravines, and that is how you have the flash flooding,” said Lantz.

Lantz says tragedy can happen when people get caught up in those high flood waters.

“It doesn’t take a lot of water on the road to actually displace a car or a vehicle when it is traveling through -- that it can tip that car over and people drown in the cab,” he explains.

Experts also say increased rock fall is possible during flash floods, snag trees or logs can easily roll down steep embankments, and culverts have an increased chance of plugging due to the high flows, and can wash out road surfaces quickly.

If high water is encountered at creek crossings travelers should avoid those areas. Also, travel in burned areas is discouraged until the flood watch elapses.

Additionally, a flash flood watch is also in effect for the Payette National Forest where the Weiser Complex Fire has burned about 40 square miles along the Snake River near Brownlee Reservoir.

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