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Golf ball-sized hail dropped by thunderstorms

UPDATED: Fri., July 20, 2012, 2:40 p.m.

Tornado threat minimal, but super cells may rotate through region

The threat of severe thunderstorms has diminished across the Spokane region as a round of thunderstorms pounded the Inland Northwest this afternoon, bringing a risk of flash flooding and golf ball-sized hail beneath the strongest storms.

The National Weather Service issued a series of severe thunderstorm warnings across the region, including one about 3:20 p.m. from Post Falls westward to Coulee Dam, including Spokane and Airway Heights, until 4 p.m.

The line of storms was moved northward toward Canada with locations in northern Washington and North Idaho being the last to see the strong storms.

At 2 p.m., concern was focused on eastern Benewah and western Shoshone counties in the Idaho Panhandle. In addition, an area near Walla Walla was seeing a severe storm threat.

The Idaho portion of the storm had moved into eastern Kootenai County by 2:50 p.m.

The storm that crossed Walla Walla was bearing down on Whitman County, including LaCrosse, on a trajectory toward Spokane shortly before 3 p.m.

Forecasters said golf ball-sized hail had fallen near Juliaetta, Idaho, located northeast of Lewiston.

Storms popped up across the region and moved in a north-northeasterly direction.

Power outages were occurring.

In addition to the large hail, storms have potential for damaging winds to 50 or 60 mph, especially in areas north of Interstate 90, forecasters said.

The threat of a tornado in rotating super cells was minimal, forecasters said.

The storms fired up in south-central Washington around 1 p.m. and reached the Spokane area around 2 p.m. through 4 p.m.

A wave of thunderstorms moved across the area early this morning, arriving in Spokane around 5 a.m. and bringing a bright orange sunrise against the darkening clouds.

That wave headed into British Columbia from Northeast Washington and North Idaho.

Behind it, clear skies allowed heat to build at ground level and set the stage for upward convection.

At the same time, a moist low pressure area moved inland from the Oregon coast, and provided instability in the atmosphere for thunder cell formation as the associated low-pressure trough moved through the region.

A flash flood watch is in effect across the region through this evening when the thunderstorms should subside, forecasters said.

A cooler lower pressure area is also dropping southward from the Gulf of Alaska this morning, and that low is displacing the storm feature that is moving into the region later today, forecasters said.

It will also bring dry air and sunshine with highs in the 80s this weekend.

Temperatures could drop to the middle 70s on Monday as the Alaskan low moves over the Inland Northwest.

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