Yellowstone River Above Flood Stage and the 9th Street Bridge (almost) Collapses

(Links at the bottom of the post for NOAA and other official reports)

This would be a better story if I was reporting that the 9th Street Bridge collapsed and went tumbling down the river. But it hasn’t. I checked this morning and again at 4:30pm. It is still there.

The Yellowstone River was beyond flood stage yesterday and a whole lot of junk is floating down with the snowmelt. Big trees, brush, maybe a car. And lots and lots of water. This river detritus is getting caught on a bridge that connects two small islands to the rest of us. And the water is pushing hard. And the bridge is old.

Yesterday, part of the bridge started to collapse. It doesn’t look like much, but in this sleepy little town everyone came out to watch. There were 24 or so people stranded on the island (including a 6 month old who spends his days out there with grandpa while mom and dad work), plus dogs, cats, horses and assorted other animals.

Rumor has it that they are bringing in a temporary army bridge to get people back and forth until another bridge can be built.

Anders and I headed down yesterday afternoon to see what all the excitement was about.

Helicopter at the bridge

What looks to be every emergency vehicle in the county is lined up at the foot of the bridge. A helicopter was flying back and forth to evacuate people from the island. The Sheriff’s jet boat was there, too, but the river was deemed to dangerous for crossing.
9th Street Island Bridge

9th Street Island Bridge.
Close-up view of the bridge
Watching the bridge

Folks brought lawn chairs, cameras, picnic lunches and their kids in hope of seeing the bridge collapse.
Party at the bridge
Steel

Steel to reinforce the bridge or build a temporary one.
9th Street Bridge from downstream.

9th Street Bridge from downstream.
ICC at Sac Park

The Incident Command Center at Sacajawea Park.

For comparison here are three views of the river from around the same place. The first is from yesterday.

View of the Yellowstone downstream of the bridge.

View of the Yellowstone downstream of the bridge. If you squint you can see the bridge.

This is May 21 when we all thought the river was peaking.

Yellowstone River

The river on May 20, 2008…
Yellowstone comparison

…the same location mid-September 2007.

The Livingston Enterprise ran a story about the bridge collapse and one about two guys whose boat capsized in the river a few days ago. Not a good time for boating the Yellowstone.

Here is what NOAA and the National Weather Service has to say about the outlook for the river.

WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THE WEEKEND ALLOWING
ADDITIONAL SNOW TO MELT FROM THE MOUNTAINS. AREA RIVERS AND CREEKS
WILL CONTINUE TO RISE THROUGH EARLY NEXT WEEK. IN
PARTICULAR…THE RIVER LEVELS ON THE YELLOWSTONE RIVER NEAR LIVINGSTON
REMAIN ABOVE FLOOD STAGE…AND ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN ABOVE FLOOD STAGE
THROUGH EARLY NEXT WEEK. AT THIS TIME…RIVER LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO
EXCEED 9 FEET ON SUNDAY AND MAY EXCEED 10 FEET BY MONDAY MORNING. IF
THE RATE OF SNOW MELT IS GREATER THAN CURRENTLY
FORECAST…LEVELS ON THE YELLOWSTONE RIVER MAY RISE SLIGHTLY HIGHER.

Get the full report here.

The latest stages and forecasts for rivers and streams.

Yellowstone River Canoeing Recommendations Based on Streamflow and Stage

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