June 4, 2012 in City, Idaho

Thunderstorm watch dropped in Spokane

From staff reports
Colin Mulvany photo

Traveling in style, Rick Noll uses a fascinator hat on his bike helmet to shield him from the rain as he rides his bicycle home from work today just a thunderstorm arrives on the South Hill in Spokane.
(Full-size photo)

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A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for North Idaho until midnight. Heavy rain is forecast for most areas of the Panhandle, the National Weather Service said.

The thunderstorms anticipated for most of the day failed to make much of a dent on the Spokane area.

In addition, a flash flood watch remains in effect through Tuesday morning for the eastern third of Washington and North Idaho.

One strong cell was reported about 11 miles north of Fourth of July Pass in North Idaho about 5:40 p.m. It was believed capable of producing hail stones the size of quarters, forecasters said. It was moving northward at 55 mph.

Earlier this afternoon, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for parts of southeast Washington, including Garfield County, and a small section of southern Whitman County west of Pullman.

The region could see large hail and damaging winds in addition to heavy rain. Winds up to 45 mph are possible within the vicinity of the storms.

As of 4:30 p.m., the weather service said storms were forming in northeast Oregon and beginning to drift northward. They will move across the sky quickly at a speed of 40 to 50 mph, forecasters said. Storms could be in the Spokane area by 5 p.m.

The atmospheric profile this afternoon suggested the possibility of tornadoes, but tornadoes are difficult to precisely predict in the Inland Northwest, much less pinpoint, forecasters said

The threat of thunderstorms will be followed by rain on Tuesday.

Rainfall tonight could approach a half to three-quarters of an inch with more rain on Tuesday. Heavier rain that might cause flooding is possible beneath the thunderstorms.

Authorities issued an alert for the storms over the emergency broadcast system in North Idaho.

In Spokane, daytime temperatures should stay in the middle 50s on Tuesday with cooler air bringing lows in the 40s and possibly even upper 30s by Thursday morning.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office is warning boaters and other recreationists to stay off the water as the storms approach and to be aware that heavy rainfall could cause stream levels to rise quickly.

The sheriff’s office asks drivers to watch out for downed power lines or trees that may be uprooted by heavy winds. People who see downed power lines should call law enforcement or the power company and not attempt to move them.

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