ELI5: Explain Like I'm 5

missoula floods

Okay kiddo, imagine a big bathtub called a “lake” and it’s located high up in the mountains. This bathtub is actually a lake called Lake Missoula.

Now, imagine that there’s a big plug at the bottom of the bathtub, but the plug is made of ice instead of rubber. When the plug melts, the water suddenly rushes out of the bathtub like when you pull the plug out of the drain of your own regular bathtub at home.

When the water rushed out of Lake Missoula, it created something called a “flood”. A flood is when a lot of water flows quickly over land that isn’t used to having that much water on it.

The flood that was caused by the melting ice plug was called the Missoula Flood. When the water flowed out of the lake, it didn’t just go down smoothly like a river. Instead, it went over lots of hills and valleys, causing destruction along its path.

This flood was so powerful that it shaped the land around Missoula, Montana, in many ways. It created giant rocks, canyons, and other interesting formations that we can still see today.

So kiddo, that’s what the Missoula Flood was all about. It was a really big flood caused by water rushing out of a mountain lake when the ice plug melted.