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Storm kills 10,000 Koocanusa kokanee

FISHING — News about the impacts of that huge thunderstorm system that rumbled through the region on Aug. 25 keep rolling in.

An algae bloom combined with the fast-moving storm killed at least 10,000 kokanee salmon in Lake Koocanusa in northwestern Montana.

State fisheries biologist Mike Hensler tells the Missoulian that previous hot, calm weather caused the water on the top of the lake to warm, allowing algae to bloom.

The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says the Aug. 25 storm brought strong winds that moved the algae deeper into the water, where it was ingested by salmon.

FWP spokesman John Fraley says the fish became disoriented after ingesting toxic blue-green algae and came to the surface. They were unable to dive back into cooler water and were killed by the warm surface water.

Fraley says the die-off of the 8- to 10-inch salmon affected a small portion of what will be next year’s adults.

Other impacts of that big storm system include:

Camper killed by falling tree near Priest Lake

Forest Service closes Beaver Creek Campground because of hazardous trees

Free firewood available at campgrounds as crews drop hazardous trees

Camper killed by falling tree in storm; Panhandle forests evaluating campgrounds

UPDATED: 2:55 p.m.

CAMPING — Idaho Panhandle National Forests staffers are scrambling to assess tree damage at developed forest sites after a visitor was killed in the Stagger Inn Campground northwest of Priest Lake by a damaged tree related to thunder storms on Sunday night.

Kyle L. Garrett, 48, of Sandpoint, died when a 200-foot-tall tree uprooted and fell on his tent, according to the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office. A 52-year-old woman was also injured and was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The Stagger Inn is a small primitive campground at the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars in Pend Oreille County just west of the Idaho state line.

Other campgrounds are being evaluated before the Labor Day holiday.

Here's the info from Panhandle Forests spokesman Jason Kirchner:

High winds throughout the Idaho Panhandle last night caused numerous trees to weaken and fall resulting in one fatality at the USDA Forest Service’s Stagger Inn Campground in Pend Orielle County, Wash. Investigation into the accident is being led by the Pend Orielle County Sheriff’s Department. Due to these hazardous conditions, and in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest has begun a widespread assessment of its developed recreation sites to identify additional areas where storm damage may have weakened trees. Rapid assessments of campgrounds, picnic areas and other developed recreation sites will determine whether temporary closures are needed to provide for public safety until crews are able to remove hazardous trees.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident at our campground and are making every effort to ensure that last night’s storm damage has not left hazard trees in our developed recreation sites,” said Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth.

To ensure a rapid and comprehensive response to last night’s storm damage the forest has activated an Incident Management Team, like those used to manage wildfires and other emergencies, to quickly assess and manage hazards discovered in recreation sites across the forest. Assessment will focus only on developed sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas. Further assessment updates, including any temporary closures will be posted at www.inciweb.org.

It is vitally important for forest visitors to understand that hazardous trees may be present anywhere on the national forest. Visitors are encouraged to take a hard look at their surroundings when recreating throughout the forest, and especially when selecting a campsite. Hazardous trees are not always readily apparent, but some obvious indicators of dangerous trees include damage to roots, branches or trunk; insect infestations; leaning trees; or dead trees. These types of trees are especially hazardous when the wind is blowing.

Colville repairing bridge on upper Barnaby Creek

FORESTS — Until a bridge is repaired, access to the Barnaby Buttes Trailhead and many prized huckleberry picking patches on the Colville National Forest will require a much longer drive for those used to accessing them off of South Fork Sherman Creek Road.

The South Fork of Sherman Creek Bridge on Barnaby Creek Road, Forest Service Road (FS RD) 2014000, has been closed because of damage sustained in the July 20 wind storm, officials reported today.

Read on for details.

Storm nearly dealt Cheney family a death blow at campsite

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CAMPING — The best part of this camping trip?   Nobody was killed.

A Cheney family survived a harrowing evening during the storm that ravaged Ferry County on July 20, 2012.

See their photos above.

See a story about the storm and brief surge of hurricane-force winds swept through the region

Ferry County residents need donations to get through storm disaster

OUTDOORS — There's plenty of firewood for keeping warm in northeastern Washington this week, but many People are hurting for other necessities.

With hundreds of families still without power after last Friday's wind storm wreaked havoc in the region, officials in Ferry County are trying to drum up help with a list of basic necessisties people are needing to get back into gear — including a family that lost their home.

“There's a snowballing effect to this Ferry County disaster,” said Bob Whittaker, who lives near Curlew. “Ferry County has Washington State's highest unemployment rate.  Everyone has freezers full of deer meat that gets us through the year. Being this rural, all of us shop in bulk and freeze food. 

“But without power, its all going bad. I just found out they are still rationing blocks of ice in Republic.

“Keller on the Colville Reservation is even more devastated than North County but we are not hearing about it as much, yet. again, no power.”

Tornadoes Assault in Every Direction

April in the South is peak tornado season. Yesterday, killer storms swept through Alabama killing dozens, destroying lives and wiping out entire communities.

 

   It’s mid-April. The big forsythia I planted in my back yard is finally blooming. Jonquils have pushed up through the chilly soil.

   Spring comes quietly to the Northwest. In other parts of the country it is the prettiest time of the year, but there is a darker side to the season.

   Killer storms.

   If you’ve ever spent a spring or summer in the central and southern states, the region known as the Tornado Belt, you’ve probably experienced the dramatic clash of cold air sweeping down from the north and warm, moist air rising up from the Gulf of Mexico.

   You’ve been in tornado country.

   I grew up in the South and the first thing one learns about tornadoes is that they aren’t a single sensory experience. They overwhelm, assaulting from every direction.

   First, you can see bad weather coming. The sky lowers. Dark clouds build overhead and everything takes on a greenish cast. The breeze disappears and the tallest trees are still. Even the birds fall silent.

   Flickering television screens show anxious forecasters pointing to ominous radar images and tracing the path of the storm.

   You can feel the storm before it arrives. The air hangs over you, heavy and oppressive. The humidity is smothering.

   Tornados have a strange perfume. They are scented with ozone, a trace of flowering shrubs and other odors trapped in the wind. Tornadoes smell like the basement, the bathroom or the closet. Wherever you’ve run for shelter.

   A tornado has a voice. The sound begins with the sudden, piercing wail of sirens that send a warning across town. It’s a terrifying, nerve-shattering sound, loud enough to wake you; to get your attention and make you look up from your desk at work; to be heard over the car radio or the television in the den. Loud enough to make you move. Fast.

   Twisters bring the sound of rain lashing against the roof; wind whipping through the leaves, stripping them from the branches. They bring the sharp stinging sound of pine needles striking like javelins. The thudding of your pulse as you gather up the children, snatching blankets and teddy bears and sippy cups of juice to see you through the wait.

   They are a whirlwind of crashing, banging and shattering sounds.

   Survivors always say that the tornado, when it arrives, sounds like a freight train passing overheard.

   Tornados taste like fear.

   The thing about tornadoes is that, like so many of the things that scare us the most, they are random. They strike, skip, strike and skip again. There’s no way to predict where they will land or who will be in harm’s way.

   And when they swarm, you can’t fight them. You can only hide and hope for the best.

   It’s easy to find fault with the place where you live. And Spokane is no exception. Everyone has his or her own list of what would make this a better place to be.

   But we should be grateful for at least one thing. Springtime in this part of the country may be slow to arrive, but it is relatively meek when it gets here. We don’t have to search the sky with anxious eyes, or listen for the sound of danger. We can go to sleep at night without worrying that the roof will blow away and trees will be uprooted.

   Sure, storms come. And then they pass. At best, the grass is a little greener. At worst the creek is a little higher.

   But our homes, the places that shelter us, are still standing.

   And when the sun comes up, we’re still here.

 

This essay was adapted from an earlier column. Cheryl-Anne Millsap's essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

National Guard to help out in Spokane, worries about rain on the way…

The state is deploying up to 200 soldiers and airmen to Spokane to help remove snow from school roofs and other structures, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office said a few minutes ago.

State officials (see the full press release below) are particularly worried about “a warm, moist Pacific air mass” bringing “significant precipitation” to western Washington over the next day and a half.

“Spokane can also expect to see warm and moist subtropical air, causing rain and melting snow,” reads the statement from Gregoire’s office.

So yes, the dreaded “rain on snow” phenomenon, better known as “flooding.”

From the statement:

Significant hazards will be created by the warm rain, including risks of flooding, landslides, avalanches and potential roof collapses caused by snow and rain accumulation on roofs.
 
The avalanche threats will be greatest in the next 24 hours.  Snow levels are expected to rise to 5000-8000 feet, causing extreme avalanche danger for the Olympics and Cascades.  The risk of landslides also will be greatest on Wednesday. The rain will then cause a flood threat for nearly all Western Washington rivers and streams beginning Wednesday and peaking on Thursday.
 
Flood impacts may include the need to close US-12 at Randle and I-5 in Lewis County.

Full text below.