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Hangman Creek flows spike; rafters gearing up

RIVER RUNNING — Every local veteran rafter, kayaker and canoeist knows the recipe: Snow followed by warm temperatures and rain are the ingredients for the brief surge of flows needed for whitewater action on Hangman Creek.

Brownwater action, I mean.

The river spiked from under 200 cfs yesterday to more than 6,000 cfs this morning after last night's downpour on the snowy landscape.

Rafters love these conditions.

Canoeists would be safer to let the flows settle.  I personally like paddling the level around 1,200 cfs (see photo).

But it won't be long before Hangman settles down and once again becomes too low to float.

Kootenai, Pend Oreille rivers flowing BIG

RIVERS — Recent rains storms with more on the way combined with high flows out of Canada are prolonging the region's “spring” runoff in a big way.

The Kootenai River rose above flood stage at Bonners Ferry today, according to our S-R weather reporter. The minor flooding is expected through Friday, forecasters said. The river was about three inches above flood stage of 64 feet at Bonners Ferry.

In addition, the Pend Oreille River below Albeni Falls Dam was near flood stage. The river was at 45 feet in Newport this morning.

Cities such as Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry could break records for June rainfall with more than five inches recorded there already this month.

Spokane River has shot at reaching record flow

 RIVERS — Stan Miller has retired from Spokane County’s water resources program, but he still keeps an eye on the Spokane River and the snowpack left in the mountains. 

In his educated opinion, the river has a chance of reaching an all time high flow:

From May 19 - May 21, 1997 the Spokane River was flowing at 42,000 cfs.

That is about 6,000 cfs more than today.

Only flows on May 31, 1894 (49,000 cfs), Dec. 26, 1933 (47,800 cfs), and Jan. 20, 1974 (45,600 cfs) were higher than the 1997 flow. We could set a record if we get a good dump of rain up high.

If the forecast for cooler weather for the next week is correct, we will probably just see this level for a week or until most of the snowpack is gone.

Remember this level of flow is normally not seen until the end of May or early July.

Floodwater sewage a threat to Spokane River birds

WILDLIFE — Local birding enthusiast Tim O'Brien of Cheney offered some field observations — and commentary — to expand on a newspaper story about the heavy amounts of rainfall the area is receiving and its affect on the Spokane sewage treatment plant — and the Spokane River.

Birds are influenced by the sewage overflow into the river, and O'Brien lists some of the ways. 

Click “continue reading” for his report to the Inland Northwest Birders.

Rivers swollen so big even bikers are affected

RIVERS — Rivers around the region filled with runoff to flood stage on Saturday.  The water got so high, even mountain bikers were impacted in Riverside State Park.

The photo was snapped Saturday by Spokane cyclist Daniel DeRuyter. He posed his bike where the rapidly rising Spokane River had inundated the trail in the Little Vietnam area on the south side of the river just downstream from the Bowl and Pitcher.

Said DeRuyter, “The alarming thing about this photo is that when I grabbed my bike to leave, the water had risen in level to touch my tires! Yikes.”

They should have been wearing lifejackets while reading the S-R

IN THE FIELD — Some editors like to feature photos of readers showing off their publications while vacationing in exotic places.

But here at The Spokesman-Review, we like to see people reading the paper close to home, and offering news tips at the same time.

In this photo, Kent Larson and his daughter, Ramsey, pore over the paper — or should that be pour over the news — during a Centennial Trail cruise near Avista headquarters. 

The news:   The Spokane River is still running a bit high.

The question:  Isn't it illegal to be reading the paper in the Spokane River without wearing a PFD?

Flooding closes access to Montana rivers

FISHING — Flooding on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers has forced Montana officials to close many fishing access sites this week.

Bitterroot River sites closed today include, from south to north: Hannon Memorial, WW White, Darby Bridge, Wally Crawford, Woodside Bridge, Tucker Crossing, Bell Crossing, Poker Joe and Florence Bridge.

Clark Fork sites closed near Missoula include Turah, Schwartz Creek, Kona and Kelly Island (Mullan Road access only).

Blackfoot River closed sites include Monture. 

Closures will continue until flood conditions subside.  Additional fishing access site closures are possible as conditions change.

The closures basically are a moot issue for anglers, since the rivers are blown out.  Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is advising boaters to stay off the rivers until flows subside and the abundance of dangerous logs and debris filter out.

Rock Creek is not closed but FWP officials say it's flowing dangerously high and carrying a lot of debris. A log jam has been reported at river mile 27 (upstream from the microburst site). Another log jam is reported near river mile 30 near the Hog Back