Winds gusting to 50 mph or higher are expected on Saturday evening as a strong winter storm brings lower elevation rain and high mountain snow.
A flood watch was posted this morning for much of the region. An inch of rain is expected over parts of North Idaho. Spokane should see around a half inch or more.
In addition, a winter storm warning for heavy snow above 4,000 feet was issued for Bonner, Boundary, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties.
The storm arrives after 7 p.m. and will send temperatures to 44 degrees by 5 a.m., forecasters said.
Winds pick up overnight and on Saturday, peaking Saturday night with sustained winds of 24 to 32 mph and gusts to 43 mph in Spokane and50 in Coeur d’Alene.
A high wind watch was upgraded to a warning this afternoon and is in effect from 1 a.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. on Sunday. The flood watch is in effect until 10 p.m. Saturday.
The main flooding concern is rapid runoff from rainfall and melting snow, especially since frozen ground cannot absorb the storm water.
Plugged drains, overflowing ditches, inundated culverts and ponding water are the main flooding risks in both urban and rural areas.
Snow levels should rise to 5,000 feet or higher during the storm, and then fall back to lower elevations by Sunday.
As much as 1 to 2 feet of snow are possible in the upper mountain areas.
Highs should reach the upper 40s on Saturday, falling back to the upper 30s on Sunday as the potent cold front passes through the region.
Winds could gust to 55 mph in some locations.
Travel with high profile vehicles could be difficult.
Power outages are a concern once wind gusts get above about 45 mph.
The storm subsides on Sunday.