MISSOULA - Missoula County on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, took what's become an annual spring rite in adopting an emergency proclamation around flooding and flood-related hazards.
The flood stage for the Clark Fork River above Missoula is 7.5 feet. The water reached nearly 9.5 feet on Sunday but has since subsided to 8.5 feet, according the USGS flood gauge.
“We are in spring and we have seen the waters rise,” said Adriane Beck. “Those four days of 90-degree temperatures released a lot of snowpack. We hit flood stage late last week and crested on Sunday.”
Beck, head of Disaster and Emergency Services for Missoula County, said the river is slowly falling. The emergency proclamation approved on Tuesday serves as a precautionary measure that enables the county to expend resources or activate its emergency response plan if necessary.
Only a handful of areas in and around Missoula have been impacted thus far, Beck said.
“We are seeing some impacts right now in the areas where we typically see them,” she said, naming the area around Tower Street and Kehrwald Drive. “We've been watching that area closely over the last several years. The water is consistently coming into the city open space area and beginning to inundate Kehrwald drive.”
The Clark Fork River has topped flood stage in each of the last several years, though there hasn't yet been a repeat of the 2018 season when the river crested at nearly 13 feet. That left several areas and homes around Missoula inundated with water.
The National Weather Service in Missoula issued a flood warning on May 3, and it remains in effect.
“We still have some spring to go and still have more snowpack to release,” Beck said. “The wildcard is any kind of atmospheric river that would impact our area. It's really just a precautionary stage at this point. We're in flood stage, but we're not seeing anything too significant right now.”