The National Weather Service is predicting strong thunderstorms with heavy rain to impact the western Montana area starting Friday night.

Meteorologist Lee Ann Allegretto said the fast moving storms will come in from the west and affect the Bitterroot and Missoula valleys.

“We’re expecting storms to come out of central Idaho into our area through the Bitterroot and up into Missoula,” said Allegretto. “This will probably happen at about 5:00 p.m. on Friday. With these storms, they’re going to have a lot of moisture, and when we see this set-up, we’re concerned about the potential for flash-flooding. There’d a chance for small streams and creeks to see substantial rises. It won’t do too much to the main stem rivers like the Bitterroot and the Clark Fork, but there is the potential that the Lolo Peak Fire burn scar could be impacted by thunderstorms and heavy rainfall.”

Allegretto said the Clark Fork River remains in minor to moderate flood stage, but the Bitterroot River in Missoula is quite high.

“The Bitterroot is still rising, so that hasn’t changed,” she said. “However, we have issued a flood watch for the portion of the Bitterroot River near Darby. That will be in effect till further notice, and that’s mostly based on snow melt.”