The combination of melting snow following a near-record snowy winter season and heavy rains have made for a dangerous situation in parts of Montana as flooding occurs in parts of the state. Nearly a dozen different river locations in western Montana, particularly in Missoula, are experiencing river flooding.
Within the past 30 days, a widespread two to four inches of rain has fallen in the state, and over half a foot has been recorded in isolated areas. Additional rainfall is ahead from a new storm on Friday, which may drop over an inch of rain to parts of western and southern Montana. Rain and snow showers will then continue at times into the weekend. Some of this snow will accumulate in the mountains, which will make the situation even worse once that snow melts in a short time frame.
The Clark Fork River at Missoula is the river causing the most issues in the state. Over 820 homes have been ordered to be evacuated, and officials are warning that up to 1300 homes may be at risk for flooding. Already 3 mobile homes have been swept off of their foundations, as shown by the photo below.
In Missoula, the river has reached major flood stage and is still rising. Forecast to crest at 14 feet Friday night, it will reach water levels not seen since 1975. At least it won’t reach the record crest of 17.4 feet back in 1908. Unfortunately, water levels are forecast to remain in major flood stage through at least the end of next week, so the situation in Missoula won’t get any better in the foreseeable future.
It’s worth noting how the top five worst flood events in this city have all happened in either May or June. Springtime floods are always a big threat to the Northwest and Northern Plains due to rapidly melting snow due to warming temperatures and heavy rains.