January 8, 2009 in City

North Idaho seeing worst of weather

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Washington Cascade passes remain closed
The Transportation Department says crews will not be able to reopen Interstate 90 through Snoqualmie Pass on Thursday as they hoped. The interstate has been closed since Tuesday night. Stevens Pass and White Pass also remain closed by avalanches, slides and floodwater, cutting off east-west travel across Washington. The department says road crews continue to assess the situation.

Spokane appears to have escaped the worst of the snowpack melt-off and rain.

Flood warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service for the Coeur d’Alene River in Cataldo and the Palouse River, said John Fox, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We are seeing ice jams in the St. Joe River.”

While Coeur d’Alene had less than an inch of rain, the Northern Panhandle had anywhere from 1 to 4 inches.

Officials said they are concerned that ice on the St. Joe could cause the river to back up upstream from St. Maries and flood surrounding rural areas of the river valley. Hydrologists predicted the river to crest at 30 feet. Flood stage is 32.5 feet.

Forecasters expected the Coeur d’Alene River at Cataldo to reach 43.85 feet overnight. Flood stage is at 43 feet.

The South Fork of the Palouse River was running at 5.8 feet with flood stage at 7.0 feet. It was expected to start falling.

The Palouse River at Potlatch is expected to crest at its flood stage of 15 feet.

All of the region’s rivers were forecast to start subsiding on Friday.

Ice on the Kootenai River appeared not to have broken, and there was no threat of flooding in that area, officials said.

Rivers on the east slopes of the Cascades were not expected to rise to dangerous levels.

Cold weather expected tonight will help to slow the rapid runoff into the rivers, Fox said. “A welcome change,” he added.

Temperatures started in the 40s this morning, but they are expected to drop throughout the day, according to the weather service. Tonight’s low will be in the 20s. Officials say the weather will level out for the next few days with normal temperatures in the 30s for highs and in the lows in the 20s. Moisture will also be absent from the forecast after today and through Sunday, officials say. Mostly sunny weather is expected next week.

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