The Bitterroot River - and other rivers throughout western Montana - have lower water levels this weekend. However, that will change by the end of the week. Sunday morning May 24, at about 10:15 a.m. the US Geological Survey gauge south of Darby showed a water level of 5.48 feet, with a flood level of 7.5 feet. That is down considerably since Thursday. The same thing was reported at the USGS gauge at Bell Crossing north of Victor. The Bitterroot River level was 8.68 feet at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, far below the flood stage of 11 feet.

However, by Wednesday, the National Weather Service and the USGS expect the water levels to rise again due to a predicted heatwave. Expected high temperatures will be above the 80 degree mark Wednesday and into the 90s possibly by Saturday, May 30. That will increase melting of the snowpack and you can expect the river levels to head back toward flood stage. How high remains to be seen. Still, even now, the rivers and streams are running high, cold and fast, so stay away. The muddy waters also conceal hidden debris (see photo above).