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Weather Wise: Burn Scar Flooding Dangers

Weather Wise: Burn Scar Flooding Dangers
Posted at 8:06 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 10:06:33-04

HELENA — Just east of Townsend, water is running fast and it is murky through Deep Creek Canyon.

The reason for the murky water is because of water coming down from the Deep Creek Fire burn scar from a year ago.

A year ago we were dealing with the Deep Creek Canyon Fire which burned 4,648 acres. While the fire has long died down, the area now faces the potential of another natural disaster.

A flash flood watch has been issued for the Deep Creek burn scar and the Woods Creek burn scar in the Big Belt Mountains.

Flash flooding means flooding can happen very fast. We had thunderstorms and rain over the last 24 hours. After a wildfire, the composition of soil changes. You no longer have grasses, bushes and trees that soak up rainwater.

Heavy rain flows very quickly down burned slopes into the rivers and creeks which is why there is a flash flood watch in this area for Monday night and Tuesday.

People should take extra care when near the Deep Creek burn scar, the Woods Creek burn scar, as well as other burn scar areas from the Divide Mountain complex or the Harris Mountain Fire in southern Cascade County. The soil in these burned areas is very different and water will run very rapidly and readily over those areas and flooding can happen very quickly.

With the loss of vegetation, burn scar areas are also more susceptible to debris flows. The fast-moving, deadly landslides can be powerful mixtures of mud, rocks, boulders and entire trees.