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Flood warning in effect for Spokane, Idaho panhandle

UPDATED: Sat., March 18, 2017, 8:51 p.m.

Water from the Spokane River makes it’s way through the Post Falls dam floodgates while the spring thaw continues on Thursday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Water from the Spokane River makes it’s way through the Post Falls dam floodgates while the spring thaw continues on Thursday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

A flood warning is in effect for much of eastern Washington and North Idaho as rain and snow melt continue to cause high water levels.

The National Weather Service issued a warning Saturday afternoon, saying small stream and field flooding is likely. Several rivers are also rising as melting snow continues to move downstream, and flooding is already happening in many areas.

“Our unusually wet and snowy winter has raised the water table unusually high over North Idaho and a large portion of Washington,” the advisory said.

Most bodies of water in the region are at flooding levels, including Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River, said Steve Lentini, a hydrology operations engineer at Avista.

The Spokane River is at its highest level since 1997, he said. Lake Coeur d’Alene has been getting in about 70,000 cubic feet of water per second for the past few days, while just 35,000 is flowing out naturally.

People on Harbor Island, facing rising water, have started sandbagging to try to protect structures on the water’s edge, he said.

Fields in low-lying areas near Spokane have been flooded for several weeks thanks to the heavy snowfall this winter.

Austin Davis, who lives near Winsdor Elementary School in the West Hills area, said water had come within a few feet of some houses along Grove Road off the Geiger exit.

“There are big patches of lots of standing water,” he said. The flooding worsened Saturday morning as rain fell in the area.

Flooding near Newman Lake is also possible, the warning said.

The warning covers Garfield, Ferry, Whitman, Stevens, Asotin, Pend Oreille and northeastern Okanogan counties, as well as the Idaho Panhandle south to Lewis county.

Flooding should be reported to a local law enforcement agency. The warning is in effect until 12:15 p.m. Sunday.



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