May 16, 2011 in Idaho

Rain drenches region, causes flooding

Water covers roads in some locations; flooding to persist into June
By The Spokesman-Review
Mike Prager photo

The Spokane River was running at 25,000 cubic feet per second this morning, which is a typical peak flow for spring, but the river is now expected to rise considerably in the next several days and remain high, the National Weather Service said.
(Full-size photo)

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A wet weekend storm that moved into Spokane on Sunday will continue to bring rain today, and is causing flooding problems in several locations.

High temperatures will stay on the cool side with Spokane expected to reach 55 degrees and Coeur d’Alene only getting to 52.

Southwest winds are also expected today reaching peak gusts of 30 mph.

The incoming Pacific storm system has also brought cooler temperatures. Lows tonight may drop to the middle and upper 30s in the Spokane area.

Spokane saw 0.31 inches of rain on Sunday, but other locations received up to an inch of rain, but Coeur d’Alene had twice that much at the airport there.

Another quarter inch of rain fell at the Spokane airport by 10 a.m. this morning.

A spotter at Diamond Lake reported 0.82 inches of rain through early Sunday evening.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for small streams of the region due to rain and snow melt.

The rain triggered flooding in the eastern portions of Spokane Valley on Sunday.

Water was reported over Flora Road on Sunday night. Also, an eastbound lane of Interstate 90 had water covering it near Barker Road about 10:30 p.m. Traffic was diverted onto the exit and interchange to get around the wet spot. A state highway pump truck was called to the scene.

Traffic today was limited to one lane eastbound at Barker Road, which was causing back ups, said Al Gilson, Washington Department of Transportation spokesman in Spokane.

Rain and warmer temperatures in the mountains over the weekend brought torrents of water down the region’s streams. As much as four inches of water entered streams in northeast Washington and North Idaho.

The Washington State Patrol reported this morning that a section of state Highway 206 to Mount Spokane had water over the roadway.

Water in Deadman Creek was eroding the embankment along the highway shoulder. A crew from the DOT was on the scene today. They reduced traffic to one lane and posted a flagger at the site while other workers added fill material to replace the lost portion of the shoulder, Gilson said.

In Idaho, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office reported that the Coeur d’Alene River will crest today nearly 1.4 feet above flood stage.

Lake Coeur d’Alene is about 2.4 feet above normal summer level, but 2.6 feet below flood stage. However, as water flows into the lake, flood stage may be reached later this week, the sheriff”s office said.

Hayden Lake is so far draining into an overflow field that was set aside for flooding and allows water to recharge the subsurface aquifer.

The St. Joe River at St. Maries was expected to crest on Wednesday at nearly four feet above flood stage. On Sunday, it was 1.2 feet above flood stage. The river was at 35.1 feet at noon today, more than two feet above flood stage, and expected to crest above 36 feet on Tuesday.

Also in Idaho, state Highway 4 between Gem Hill and Frisco roads had water covering it late Sunday.

In central Washington, state Highway 410 at Nile Road northwest of Naches was blocked by a mudslide, the state Department of Transportation reported. It is in the same vicinity as a major mudslide that closed a section of the highway a couple years ago.

John Livingston, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Spokane, said that flooding problems will persist into June and may affect not only Lake Coeur d’Alene but also Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River. This is expected to be the worst year for flooding in the region since 1997, he said.

Rainfall amounts of three-quarters to an inch were reported around the region.

Mullan Pass had a record 0.54 inches on Sunday, breaking the previous record of 0.32 inches set in 2009. Record keeping dates to 1938 there.

The rain and snowmelt sent rivers to the tops of their banks across the region.

The Spokane River is expected to reach flood stage by Thursday, but not go above that level.

Other rivers rising to near flood stage are the Moyie, Pend Oreille, Stehekin, Little Spokane, Kootenai and Okanogan.

At 7 a.m., it was 42 at Spokane International Airport and 43 in Coeur d’Alene.

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