National Weather Service issues flood warning for Clark Fork River in Missoula

The second wave is hitting Missoula.

On Monday morning, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Clark Fork River in Missoula that extends until further notice. The NWS has no warnings or advisory for rivers in other parts of the state.

The first wave a few weeks ago resulted from a rain-on-snow event. Snow kept rain from soaking into the ground so a fair amount of rainwater flowed into the river, causing a day of flooding.

This time, after a weekend where daytime temperatures touched 80 degrees, snow began to melt rapidly at mid-elevations, as predicted by the National Resources and Conservation Service. That snowmelt has once again swelled the Clark Fork River, which is supposed to surpass flood stage midday on Tuesday.

The NWS is predicting warm and dry conditions through Wednesday and the river will continue to rise over the next few days, possibly reaching almost 2 feet above flood stage.

At flood stage, the river will flood low-lying areas next to the river, including streets in the Orchard Homes area, specifically the north end of Tower Street including Kehrwald Drive.

In areas where flooding occurs, don’t enter flowing water or water of unknown depth. Most flood deaths occur because people try to drive through water, so “turn around, don’t drown” when encountering flooded roads.

The NWS predicts that a weather system moving up from the southwest could bring moisture and cooler temperatures on Wednesday. The return to cooler temperatures with highs of around 60 degrees could keep the Clark Fork from growing much more.

But depending on conditions Thursday, a few severe thunderstorms could pass through the area, mostly to areas south of Interstate 90.

While Missoula is flooding, the NWS has categorized the far northwest of the state as abnormally dry. So rain is needed, but the possibility of precipitation is only 30 percent through the weekend.