• Scott Close

Jake, Elwood, and Flooding on the Little Bighorn River, Montana


What do some folks do when a river floods and overtakes a part of the town? Very little, evidently.


The Little Bighorn River rose almost 4.5 feet above average on Monday March 24- almost doubling in height- threatening Crow Agency near Hardin, Montana. Record breaking February cold and snowfall followed by sustained warm weather continues to abnormally elevate river flows across the west.


Ethos took a quick trip over to see what the flooding looked like from a hundred meters in the air. In this image, portions of interstate I90, an access ramp, and several fields and lay-down yards are still underwater.


When we arrived, the flooding had already receded by two feet. Reporting from 48 hours prior showed water frothing through road-side guard rails and completely overtaking these roads... It was surprising how well the roads and buildings appeared that were inundated only two days earlier; parking lots were drying and most buildings looked like it was time- not water- that wore them down.


Our point cloud and digital surface model of the site turned out well, having a resolution of 2.7 cm for only 20 minutes of flight time. Photogrammetry has a hard time triangulating the flat, untextured surface of water, however, as indicated by the missing areas / black-colored patches in the model below:


The town of Crow Agency carried on as if business was usual, residents were more interested in filming the drone than the landscape. The flooding event already fading as fast in the public attention as it had risen, we realized that this was not as sensational to locals as it was the greater public.


In fact, the high water apparently did little to stop any real work, check out the impromptu Ford Trucks ad captured by this pic snapped on our return home....

"60 miles to Billings, we've got a full tank of gas, two feet of standing water on the haul road, it's getting dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses."


"Hit it!"

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