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More thunderstorms possible by afternoon

A second round of thunderstorms is possible later today, adding to the potent storm that crossed the Spokane region about midnight.

A pair of severe thunderstorm warnings were issued this afternoon after storms were spotted on radar southeast of Sandpoint along Lake Pend Oreille and east of Lewiston.

Overnight, a peak wind gust of 49 mph was clocked at Spokane International Airport as a strong outflow from the storms crossed the urban area, kicking up dust in the process. Sustained winds were at 38 mph.

National Weather Service forecasters said the main target area for thunderstorms is southeast Washington and the central Idaho Panhandle, but scattered storms may materialize later today and this evening across the broader Inland Northwest.

The chance of precipitation is 40 percent.

Highs today should reach the middle 70s in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene with light winds.

Already at 11 a.m., the airport was at 68 degrees. Higher humidity is also apparent. The dew point was 54 with a relative humidity of 60 percent.

Warm temperatures are causing rivers to rise from melting snow. Already, the St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers are at minor flood stage.

A potent Pacific storm late Wednesday and Thursday and lingering into Friday could add more water to many of the region’s rivers, including the two main tributaries going into Lake Coeur d’Alene — the St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers.

Lake levels will rise in response, and flooding is expected along the shoreline. The Spokane River will rise as well, with high flows likely to arrive by the weekend from the lake.

Other rivers in the region will rise to bank full conditions or flood stage.

Already, flood waters have closed Elk Prairie Road at Calder, the Old Coeur d’Alene River Road on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and Riverview Drive between Cataldo and Kingston.

Authorities advise people to use caution when approaching the swift, cold water.

Spokane fire officials said that the Centennial Trail should be considered closed in sections under flood waters, including the one near Avista on Upriver Drive.

Flood stage is expected on the Spokane River by this weekend, but flooding is localized and not a widespread problem.

Still, people should stay out of the cold and swift water. Moving water even at six inches of depth could cause a person to lose balance and be swept away with the frigid temperatures quickly taking its toll on the ability to escape.

Children should be kept at a distance from the fast-moving water. Debris can also be a problem.

The fire department said drivers should never try to cross flood waters at even a foot of depth. Water can easily disable a vehicle and swamp it.

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