POLSON, Mont. (May 26, 2011) – Based on forecasted inflows in the coming weeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) reports that Flathead Lake is likely to exceed full pool elevation of 2,893 feet in early June, depending on the rate of snowmelt and rainfall.
According to the Corps, forecasts are rapidly changing, so actual highest stage and timing are difficult to predict.
On May 23, the Corps advised PPL Montana, the operator of Kerr Dam, of new projections based on a combination of recent heavy rain, forecasted precipitation and snow pack run-off in the basin.
For current levels at Flathead Lake, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s web site.
“In consultation with the Corps, we have been releasing as much water as we can throughout the spring at Kerr Dam to help control flooding,” said David Hoffman, director of External Affairs for PPL Montana.
“But with this new information we want to immediately inform our neighbors in the vicinity of Flathead Lake — around, upstream of it, and downstream of the dam — to make whatever preparations are necessary to protect docks, boats and property in the event of flooding,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman also said that Kerr Dam is structurally designed to handle the kinds of runoffs occurring this spring in the Flathead basin.
Kerr Dam is a three-unit hydroelectric plant on the Flathead River about five miles southwest of Polson on the natural outlet of Flathead Lake. Kerr Dam is operated under a joint license with PPL Montana and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Nation.
As operator of the dam, PPL Montana acts at the direction of the Corps with respect to flood control aspects of Kerr Dam operations pursuant to the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that dates back to the 1960s. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license for the Kerr project incorporates the MOU by reference. The operation of the project is subject to constant monitoring and re-evaluation as weather patterns themselves may rapidly change.