Idaho Transportation Department crews battled an ice jam that dammed Trestle Creek on Sunday and sent water pouring into a nearby recreational vehicle park.
“They removed tons of ice, logs and debris,” said neighbor Scott Hancock. “We have ice floes here that are 4 and 5 feet across.”
The ice jam near Hope was the first big one this year, Transportation Department district engineer Tom Baker said.
It’s unlikely to be the last. Weather forecasters are predicting that midweek high temperatures in the 40s, mixed with rain, will send runoff gushing into area rivers. The freezing level is expected to be above 6,000 feet by Wednesday.
There were nearly 2 feet of snow in many Panhandle valleys Monday. The runoff is expected to bring parts of the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers near flood stage.
“With this snow, if we get any serious rain, we’re going to see some localized flooding,” predicted Kootenai County Emergency Services Coordinator Bill Schwartz. “This snow’s going to go somewhere real quick.”
It’s also expected to carry a lot of ice, which can form dams quickly under bridges, spilling water over the banks and roads.”We’ll be watching all of the creeks,” said Baker.
At Trestle Creek, workers dug out the ice with backhoes to restore the flow; Baker said sometimes crews blast the jams free with dynamite.
Several residents of the RV park moved their vehicles to avoid damage.
River levels still were relatively low Monday. And the snow fell during extreme cold weather, giving it a relatively low water content.
“At Enaville, the water can go up 12 feet before we get to flood stage. That’s a lot of water,” said Shoshone County Disaster Services Director Chuck Herrod.
The National Weather Service office in Spokane predicts the following river levels by Thursday:
The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene at Enaville: 66 feet (72 is considered flood stage).
The Coeur d’Alene at Cataldo: 41 feet (43 feet is flood stage).
The St. Joe at St. Maries: 28 feet (32 feet is flood stage).
“And that’s provided we don’t have any ice jamming,” said Ken Holmes, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
The weather service warned of potential flooding at Calder, St. Maries and in the upper Coeur d’Alene basin to Enaville.