As the Spokane River roared by him, 3-year-old Liam Dunkin tried to quantify the rushing water.
“Big, big water,” he said, raising his left arm high in the air.
It was something his family said they couldn’t miss: With a large snowpack and unseasonably high temperatures several days ago, the river is flowing fast and heavy, making the Spokane Falls a breathtaking sight.
“Absolutely gorgeous,” said Carrie Arnold, of Spokane. Arnold plans to send photos to family in Lake Havasu, Ariz., with the message “You guys should be here.”
“As long as I’m safe, it’s great,” she said.
She’s not alone. Safety concerns over the heavy spray prompted city officials to close the southern extension of the Riverfront Park suspension bridge late Thursday.
That afternoon, dozens stood by the blocked bridge entrance, snapping photos and shooting video of what looks to be the sixth highest flow in the river since measurements began in 1891.
More than 300,000 gallons each second were passing a gauge downstream of the Monroe Street Bridge Friday afternoon, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
That’s enough water to fill the Spokane Convention Center in about 1 minute, 15 seconds.
“You see this and it makes you realize why the town grew up around it,” said Eric Grunwald, of Boston.
A Spokane native, Grunwald joined his mother, Jackie Martin, and her husband, Dick, at the lower falls in the afternoon.
It didn’t take long to get soaked â water splashed off rocks and over the railing as Grunwald walked by, drenching his lower back and right leg.