Forty-eight years ago, the Flathead experienced a massive flood when something like a foot of rain fell over the Continental Divide. Last Thursday, the National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey commemorated the event with a flood level marker at the foot of South Nucleus Avenue in Columbia Falls . . .
On Thursday afternoon, the Flathead River through Columbia Falls didn’t look that dangerous. Sure, it was a little high and a little muddy – normal for this time of year. But 48 years ago this month, there was no such thing as “normal.”
On June 7 and 8, 1964, 10 to 14 inches of rain fell over the Continental Divide. That rain, combined with melting snow, resulted in the largest flood to hit the Flathead Valley in nearly a century. On June 9, the Flathead River through Columbia Falls hit 25.58 feet; normal flood conditions are between 12 and 14 feet. That flood was commemorated on Thursday, when the National Weather Service and the United States Geological Survey erected a sign to note the high-water mark of that event at the end of South Nucleus Avenue in Columbia Falls.