March 4, 2014 in City

Forecast for region: Sloppy, with melt continuing

By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

Lewis and Clark High School track teammates Wilson Rahn, 16, in back, and Paul Ormsby, 17, take a break from their slushy training run by hopping on the swings at upper Manito Park in Spokane on Monday.
(Full-size photo)

Say goodbye to lowland snow for now.

Warmer temperatures and expected rainstorms Wednesday and Thursday have shifted attention from icy conditions to potential flooding.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a flood watch for 11 counties in the Inland Northwest.

They are Spokane, Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties in Washington and Kootenai, Bonner, Boundary, Benewah, Latah and Shoshone counties in Idaho.

Creeks, small streams, city streets and low-lying areas may be flooded.

A long fetch of tropical moisture is moving across the eastern Pacific Ocean and is expected to drop a half-inch of rain on much of the Inland Northwest and an inch or more of precipitation in the mountains on Wednesday and Thursday.

Larger rivers in northeast Washington and North Idaho are flowing below normal for this time of year and should be able to carry the runoff, forecasters said. But water will rise in all regional rivers. A few of them may creep up to flood stage.

The Little Spokane River is expected to rise to within 6 inches of flood stage and the St. Joe River at St. Maries is likely to rise within 18 inches of flood stage, both by Monday.

To the south, several rivers are rising, including the Grande Ronde River in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington, where the water should near flood stage.

The Palouse River is expected to crest 2 feet below flood stage on Thursday.

The last of the weekend’s arctic blast was being ushered out Monday, as highs in Spokane reached the mid-40s.

Highs on Thursday should reach the upper 40s and possibly lower 50s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 30s through Sunday.

Spokane International Airport recorded 5.7 inches of snow on Saturday and Sunday.

Mountain snow levels are predicted to rise to 4,000 in the north and 5,000 feet to the south.

Yet another rainstorm was moving from Asia into the western Pacific on Monday on a trajectory toward the Pacific Northwest. That storm is forecast to arrive here by Saturday night.

Spokane is still well below normal for precipitation during the fall-winter months. Since Oct. 1, Spokane has received 5.6 inches of rain and snow water equivalent at the airport, compared with 9 inches on average.

Spokane has now seen 37.5 inches of snow this season, compared with an average through Monday of 40.6 inches. That total is a big turnaround from earlier in the season.

Mountain snowpacks are now near or above 100 percent of average, with the central Panhandle showing one of the healthiest snowpacks at 123 percent of normal.

Sunday’s high of 19 in Spokane was 25 degrees below normal.

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