Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Clark Fork is Flowing.....High

The Clark Fork River, which flows west through Missoula, is flowing at historically high levels right now. If you don't live here or didn't study this river for 3 years, you might not be as excited about these high flows as I am. It should be no surprise, that when temperatures rocket into the 80s (in the valley) and some significant rain quickly follows, that the still sizable snowpack in the Upper Clark Fork basin will begin to melt. Currently (as I type), the Clark Fork above Missoula is flowing at 24,900 cubic feet per second (cfs), higher than I have ever seen it during my time in Missoula.

And it is rising. The National Weather Service is predicting that the CFR will peak at around 13.39 feet 14.8 feet 13.95 feet or approximately 30,000 cfs 34,000 to 35,000 cfs 31,000 cfs on Thursday. If it peaks at around 30,000 cfs 34,000 to 35,000 cfs  31,000 cfs, the flows will be the fifth second fifth largest during the 82 years of record.

Larger flows will only have been experienced in 1908, 1948, 1975, and 1964. As a fluvial geomorphology nerd, I am excited. Excited to see a 16-year 40-year 16-year Recurrence Interval flood. Excited to see the Clark Fork hit Major Flood Stage. Excited to see how the restored section of the Clark Fork holds up and adjusts.

Hopefully the people and properties around Tower Street are relatively unharmed.

UPDATE: NWS has estimated that the peak flow will be pushed back to Friday and will top out at 13.95 feet, which is the equivalent to about 30,500 to 31,000 cfs. Still a significant flood. Not the second biggest of all-timessss though. I am done updating this until the peak actually happens.



owl said...

fluvial geomor-what? :) That's pretty cool. I'm not up on the terminology, but I enjoy watching a good flood or tsunami or tornado from the nature aspect of it. that CFS reading is incredible in context, isn't it? PS - How far are you from Centennial Valley and what day can I fish with you? :)

Ivan said...

i will tell you about fluvial geomorphology when you come out here. one of the reasons I didn't enter the contest was the fact that I am floating and fishing the smith river during a portion of time. If you make it out a couple days before the TU event, we could meet halfway at the Big Hole. I am about 5 hours away from Centennial Valley.

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