High waters in Medical Lake were starting to recede after snowmelt and runoff covered roadways and crept into the crawl spaces of some homes last week.
“It seems like it’s subsiding,” said Police Chief Christopher Elg. “Most of the people we’ve spoken to say they’ve never seen the water as high as it’s been.”
Elg’s own home had as much as five or six inches of water in the crawl space beneath the main floor, he said. Elg lives in a new subdivision at the north end of Tule Lake, a small body of water in the southwest section of the town.
Medical Lake maintenance workers placed a pump on a nearby intersection to help move the rising lake water down hill toward Silver Lake, its natural course of drainage.
Elg said at least two of his neighbors had to pump water from the crawl spaces of their homes.
The high water was caused by a combination of factors, including record precipitation last fall, a substantial snowpack on hills and shady areas, and repeated storms in February and March.
Typically, water levels peak by April 1, said Eastern Washington University geography professor Bob Quinn, an expert in hydrology.
He said the problem is compounded by shallow soils that lie on top of solid basalt rock. The soils become saturated because the water can’t penetrate the cracks in the rock quickly enough.
This forms what are known as perched wetlands.
Many areas throughout the southwest portion of Spokane County saw high water and flooding this month similar to the problems in Medical Lake.
The road connecting Medical Lake and Four Lakes was closed at Silver Lake, where a causeway divides Silver Lake from North Silver Lake.
Snowmelt and runoff rushing into North Silver Lake normally flows into Silver Lake through a culvert pipe. But water backed up high enough in North Silver Lake to spill over the road into Silver Lake.
Last week, the rushing water was undermining the south shoulder and causing pieces of asphalt to break off.
Senior Airman Brinson Rod was standing on the road fly fishing for trout.
“I don’t have to worry about traffic,” he joked.
Elsewhere, flood waters blocked driveways and flooded several cabins at the south end of Clear Lake at Mallard Cove.
The state Transportation Department placed a large portable pump along state Highway 902 just north of Interstate 90 to help prevent water from flooding across the highway near a blue heron enhancement pond.
Fancher Road, where it passes West Medical Lake, was covered with water from the lake. The resort building and its docks were floating on top of the high water, and the parking lot was flooded.