Hot weather through the first part of the week has triggered snow melt at higher elevations of the Cascades and southeast British Columbia causing at least nine Inland Northwest rivers to swell with icy cold water.
Cooler weather is expected starting today through Saturday. The weekend is expected to bring mild temperatures in the upper 60s to lower 70s, but forecasters are calling for a chance of showers and cooler weather early next week.
Tuesday’s high in Spokane was 86, which was 20 degrees above normal.
A flood warning was issued for the Yaak River in northwestern Montana where the river was reported at 7.5 feet on its way to a crest of 8.1 feet on Thursday. Minor flooding is expected.
The National Weather Service also issued flood watches for the Okanogan River between Oroville and Tonasket and the Stehekin River.
The Okanogan was at 13.8 feet this morning and expected to crest at minor flood stage of 15 feet on Thursday afternoon.
A flood warning was issued today for the Okanogan.
Minor flooding is also expected on the Stehekin.
Elsewhere, the Kettle River above Curlew is likely to crest below flood stage later this week.
The Kootenai River at Bonners Ferry should rise to within three feet of flood stage by Thursday.
The Moyie River at Eastport should crest within inches of flood stage on Friday.
And the St. Joe River at St. Maries may get to within a foot of flood stage on Thursday.
The Yakima and Naches rivers in south-central Washington were also near flood stage.
The National Weather Service has been warning the public this week to be very cautious near all mountain streams because the snow melt causes the water to be dangerously cold. In addition, the surge of current can carry logs and other woody debris, increasing the danger to river users.
A water temperature of 40 degrees can incapacitate a person within 30 minutes, causing a condition known as hypothermia, which would lead to death within 90 minutes, the weather service said.