Precipitation Monitors Installed In Wake Of Beaver Creek Fire


By Joey Martin

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) Rock slides and flash floods are threatening parts of Blaine County In the wake of last year's Beaver Creek Fire.

That's why Blaine County and the USGS have teamed up to install a new piece of technology to monitor the mountain tops.

Joey Martin for Idaho’s First News joins the team and tells us what this new piece of technology is all about.

Since the beaver creek fire, the steep slopes that were heavily burnt now can no long support the erosion of heavy rains and snow melt.

Causing massive slides and possible flash flooding.

There is really no way to prevent this from happening.

But now, there is a way to monitor those slopes and accurately predict when and where it could happen.

"We are working in cooperation with Blaine County, homeland Security and the weather service to set up hydrologic monitoring network consisting of 6 precip gages as well as 6 stream gages in the valley surrounding the Beaver Creek burn area."
Said Dave Evetts, Assistant Director of Hydrologic Data for USGS.

The new precipitation monitoring gages will record the amount of precipitation fall at the top of the mountains.

And relay the data via satellite back to authorities.

The stream gages will monitor water levels in the bottom of the valleys in many of the creeks and rivers.

"This data can be used for a variety of things. Right now I believe Blaine County and the Weather Service Emergency Responders will be using the data from the precip gages to help provide as much warning as possible to precip events that may help to cause a debris flow in the area... which could be quite devastating."
Said, Evetts.

"It helps to identify when storms are in the area and it's able to tell the intensity of the storms that are coming through. Once these slopes are wet like this and once there it this kind of moisture then we can have transport like this when the ground get liquefied and slides."
Said, Jake Jacobs. USGS Supervising Hydrologist

These slides and water build ups are taking place high up in the valleys... But these dangers could really impact the resident that call the valley floor home.

"It could really threaten lives I guess... and the people that are located downstream. So as much advanced warning of these events as possible... is key."
Said Evetts.

Monitoring the precipitation on the mountains tops to help keep the resident of the Wood River Valley safe for years to come.

It's estimated that the mountains and slopes will fully recover in the next 3 to 4 years.

The 12 installed monitoring gages are designed to be in place for the same amount of time.

So once the mountains return to their former glory.

The threat of slides and flash flooding will be a thing of the past.

And the gages will be removed.

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