The Worst Natural Disaster in Missoula – Comparing 2018 Floods to 1908
Last Friday, May 11, Missoula flooding on the Clark Fork River officially hit a record high that hasn’t been seen for 110 years.
"This past Friday night we hit 13.82 feet, which is actually the second highest recorded reading on the Clark Fork, the highest being 17.4 feet in 1908, so it's the highest it has been in over 100 years," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Trent Smith.
According to the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, the 1908 flood was a big surprise at the time, as there was not much snow pack then due to a light winter. That flood was driven by a lot of rainfall. Smith says, right now, the 2018 flooding is in a lull, but we will be back in record territory by the weekend when it is expected to hit 13.89 feet.
The 1908 flood is still considered the worst natural disaster to ever hit Missoula. Rain began falling on May 7th, and didn’t let up for weeks on end, then, by June 5th the flood grew high enough to collapse the Higgins Avenue bridge. Homes were even pulled into the current. According to the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, the city became isolated after “telegraph, telephone, road and rail lines were damaged or destroyed by the unrelenting rain.”