Thunderstorms are moving north out of Oregon this afternoon, and will provide a leading edge to what forecasters said will be a period of soaking rain over the next 24 hours or more. The rain is expected to worsen flooding problems across the region.
A line of showers, some with thunderstorms, was moving northward across the Columbia Basin and Palouse region and expected to affect areas to the south and west of Spokane through early evening.
Forecasters said the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas are also under a threat of thunderstorms this evening as the wet weather begins to move across the Inland Northwest.
They are calling for an 80 percent chance of showers tonight and a 100 percent chance of rain on Thursday.
Warm weather in recent days has sent snow melt into the region’s rivers already with flooding already occurring on the St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers.
A flood watch was issued today for Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane and Moyie rivers. A flood warning is in effect for the St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers emptying into the lake.
In addition, a flood advisory was issued for small streams across the region. Heavy runoff may create pools of water in low-lying areas and trigger landslides, the National Weather Service said.
Rainfall is likely to increase tonight and continue on Thursday with amounts ranging from 0.75 inches to an inch. Colder air in the wake of the storm should slow snow melt with snow levels dropping to 3,000 to 4,000 feet.
The Spokane River in Spokane could see higher flows by Sunday as Lake Coeur d’Alene’s level rises to flood stage.
The lake is now expected to reach well into the minor flood stage reaching a height 2,134.5 feet in elevation, with the crest arriving on Sunday.
The Coeur d’Alene River at Cataldo was already at flood stage and was expected to rise another foot by Friday before receding.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has gotten involved in helping with flood control, providing another pump for flood control at Cataldo, the Corps said this afternoon.
At Harbor Island on the Spokane River, a Corps team is conducting sandbag training this evening.
The St. Joe at Calder and St. Maries are also under a flood warning. Forecasts indicate the river will reach major flood stage at St. Maries at 38 feet on Friday.
The Kootenai River at Bonners Ferry should stay a foot below flood stage, the Corps said. Outflow from Libby Dam was reduced to help ease the flow downstream.
Albeni Falls Dam on the Pend Oreille River was taken off line and its flood gates raised to allow free flow of the river.
A levee on the Naches River at Naches is being bolstered, the Corps said. The Yakima River is at minor flood stage at Wapato.
The Corps’ district office in Seattle is on alert and monitoring waterways around the clock during the current high water period, the Corps said.
After a cold front moves through on Thursday, temperatures are dropping back to more April-like levels with highs in the upper 50s and lows in the upper 30s.
Normal temperatures in Spokane for today are 60 for a high and 38 for a low.
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