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Clark Fork River near Missoula overruns banks with more rain to come

Posted at 8:29 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 22:29:07-04

MISSOULA — As expected, the Clark Fork River west of downtown Missoula spilled over its banks and is now covering parts of Tower Street and Kehrwald Drive thanks to a prolonged, widespread rainfall event overnight.

As of 2 p.m. this afternoon, the Missoula Airport received over an inch of rain in the previous 24 hours, nearly three-quarters of which fell since midnight. The result, a rise of over one-and-a-half feet along the Clark Fork River near the Orchard Homes area, pushing well into minor flood stage. Unfortunately, this has become a common theme for some living in this area who walk out the door to find the river running through their yards.

At Fort Missoula, homeowners along the flood-prone area, as well as volunteers, were busy filling bags of sand, and loading them onto trucks in an effort to keep the water from further intruding into the neighborhood, and in some cases, into basements and homes. Members of the Missoula Office of Emergency Management are keeping an eye on supplies, and will bring in new sand and bags, if needed.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Clark Fork River below Missoula, as well as the Bitterroot River in Missoula, are both below flood stage, though the National Weather Service is anticipating that the Bitterroot will reach minor flood stage by Thursday morning. The sunny break the Missoula Valley got Wednesday afternoon didn't last long, as another surge of moisture will spread across the area Wednesday evening and will continue through Thursday morning, driving river levels even higher. Projections for the Clark Fork River above Missoula are calling for a crest just shy of the 11-foot moderate flood stage sometime between Thursday evening and noon on Friday.