June 6, 2009 in City, Idaho

Thunderstorms drop heavy rain, hail west of Spokane

Funnel clouds, flash flooding reported
By The Spokesman-Review
John Hardin photo

A funnel cloud was spotted today just south of Lake Roosevelt, and west of Seven Bays Marina, in Lincoln County, in a line of severe thunderstorms that moved west of Spokane.
(Full-size photo)

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A strong thunderstorm bringing flash floods, funnel clouds and large hail moved across rural areas of Lincoln County, northeast Adams County and northwestern Whitman County this afternoon.

At its height, National Weather Service forecasters said the storm was capable of producing hail as large as ping pong balls.

Hail as large as an inch in diameter fell on the west side of Sprague Lake along Interstate 90, according to a report received by the weather service.

The storm spread into a series of disturbances along a line from Quincy in central Washington to east of Lewiston by 5 p.m.

Forecasters issued a flash-flood warning in the area of the storm with two to three inches of rain considered possible.

Water was reported across the roadway on State Highway 23 northwest of Sprague.

Creston, Harrington and Sprague were in the flash flood warning area. Short-lived funnel clouds, also known as land spouts, were sighted in Lincoln County south of Lake Roosevelt, said forecaster Ron Miller.

Forecasters said the funnel clouds were not rotating in the manner of a tornado and were not considered tornados.

Earlier in the afternoon, the storm was centered 22 miles west of Cheney and eight miles northwest of Sprague at 2:40 p.m. and moving southeast at 20 mph. By 3 p.m., it was 19 miles northeast of Ritzville and moving to the south of Interstate 90. It moved toward north-central Whitman County and the towns of Lamont and Ewen.

A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect during the height of the storm about 3 p.m.

Other thunderstorms were reported in the area of Gifford west of Chewelah in Stevens County, affecting the Fruitland and Ford areas, too. The Spokane area had an isolated thunderstorm at 10:30 p.m. Friday.

A Canadian cold front and its associated storm energy pushed through the Inland Northwest in the afternoon, creating clouds, showers, thunderstorms and northeast winds across the region.

Driven by a low pressure system in southern Canada, the front ran into another low pressure area that had moved inland from the California coast during the past day.

Air from the two systems was moving in opposite directions at middle elevations in what’s known as a “deformation band” over eastern Washington, creating the dynamics for the severe storm complex.

The Canadian front is expected to bring cooler conditions this weekend. The risk of thunderstorms is subsiding tonight as drier, cooler air moves into the region from Canada.

Highs Sunday should be in the upper 60s with lows in the 40s. Clouds will dominate the skies, forecasters said.

The chance of showers on Sunday is 20 percent during the day and 30 percent in the evening in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Thunderstorms are possible along the mountains of North Idaho. Jones said the chance of thunderstorms may increase on Monday and Tuesday as temperatures warm into the 70s both days.

Sandpoint earlier today saw gusts to 30 mph. Spokane had gusts to 24 mph this afternoon.

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