Accumulating runoff is flooding parts of the region, including Farwell Road in North Spokane, and a rock slide temporarily blocked most of U.S. 195 near Rosalia. Temperatures rose into the 50s locally for the first time since Nov. 19.
Patchy sunshine and a mild southwest wind combined to send afternoon temperatures to 53 degrees at Spokane International Airport and 50 in Coeur d’Alene. Felts Field in East Spokane reported 57 for a high.
The mild weather and rain today has heightened concern about flooding on small streams and creeks as well as in low-lying rural areas and some urban locations.
Washington State transportation crews and State Patrol troopers were at Farwell Road and U.S. Highway 2 late this afternoon where flooding was starting to cover up lanes of traffic there. Sandbags were brought to the area to hold back the water, an eyewitness reported.
Flooding closed state Highway 231 near Reardan.
In Idaho, Prairie Avenue between Huetter and Atlas Road in Kootenai County was closed. Flooding was also reported along Idaho state Highway 41 south of Oldtown on Wednesday.
The State Patrol said the rock slide on U.S. 195 between Plaza and Rosalia closed the southbound lane and partly blocked the northbound lane. At least one vehicle struck the rocks, troopers said, but no injuries were reported. The slide was cleared after a short time.
The National Weather Service today upgraded its flood watch to a flood advisory, in effect through Friday morning for 11 counties in Northeast Washington and North Idaho.
Just under a quarter inch of rain fell through this morning at the Spokane airport. More was expected in locations near the region’s mountains.
A potent rain storm is forecast to arrive tonight with between a quarter and a half inch of rain in Spokane with another tenth to a quarter inch on Thursday.
Avalanche risk remains high in the mountains, particularly in the Cascades.
An avalanche this morning on Stevens Pass closed U.S. Highway 2 until a pile of snow that covered the highway could be removed this afternoon.
U.S. Highway 12 east of Lewiston in Idaho was closed due to avalanche danger today.
Last Nov. 19, the high was 52.
The average high for this time of year is 45.
Last year, the first day in the 50s was March 1.