The National Weather Service in Spokane on Wednesday issued a flood warning for small streams in Boundary and Bonner counties in North Idaho and Pend Oreille County in Washington.
Reporting gauges indicate 2 to 3 inches of rain fell in the mountains of those areas. This combined with melting snow led to sharp rises on small streams and localized flooding, especially in Bonner County.
The flood warning was scheduled to expire early Thursday along with a less-serious flood advisory for a broader swath of the Inland Northwest.
Up to 6 inches of rain was reported in the mountains of Bonner County, and reports from the area show heavy stream and creek flows north and northeast of Sandpoint.
Oliver Road was washed out in Bonner County. In addition, water spilled over roadways along Schweitzer, Sand and Grouse creeks and Upper Pack River in Bonner County.
That led to closures of Upper Pack River Road, Grouse Road and North Boyer Road.
“There are a lot of little creeks that aren’t so itty bitty,” said Pam Finley at Bonner County Emergency Management.
The Pack River north of Sandpoint was reportedly rising fast and flowing at nearly 7,000 cubic feet per second, which is the highest flow recorded, officials said. It is more than 20 times average flow for this time of year.
Lightning Creek in Bonner County was filled to its banks and more. A stream gauge showed it was flowing at 5,000 cubic feet per second. Average flow is less than 200 cfs this time of year.
Also, Deep Creek at Lions Den Road in Boundary County had flooding.
Elsewhere, a mudslide closed U.S. Highway 2 in Tumwater Canyon west of Leavenworth, Washington.
In Yakima County, the Naches River was approaching major flood level. The U.S. Forest Service said there are a number of roads being flooded or damaged, and two bridges were inundated by flood waters near Naches. Forest cabins were cut off from outside.
The heavy rain and mild temperatures diminished accumulating snowpacks, but forecasters are calling for snow to return to the mountains through the weekend. Up to 8 inches of snow could fall, and possibly more.
A flood warning means flooding is imminent or has been reported. A flood advisory was also in effect for broader areas of North Idaho and northeastern Washington Wednesday.
The Coeur d’Alene River at Cataldo in North Idaho is forecast to rise to about 2 feet below flood stage by noon Thursday.
The river there was approaching the point where portions of the campground south of Interstate 90 and Dudley Road, downstream of Cataldo, may be underwater. A little higher than that, and portions of Riverview Road between Cataldo and Kingston will flood.
The river at Cataldo is prone to cresting in periods of heavy rain and rapid snowmelt, causing minor flooding of farmland downstream to Harrison. In addition to the campground, portions of Dudley Road west of Latour Creek could be impassable.
Some homes there are protected by the Cataldo levee.
The river there reached 2 feet above flood stage on March 10, 2014.
At 9 a.m., the weather service posted 24-hour rainfall amounts from across the region with some surprisingly large totals.
In Bonner County, Bear Mountain recorded 6.7 inches of rain on an automated monitoring station. Schweitzer Basin had 5.2 inches of rain.
In Shoshone County, Lookout had 3.5 inches of rain and Mosquito Ridge had 3.3 inches.
In Spokane County, Quartz Peak had 2.1 inches.
Similar amounts fell in the Cascades. Stevens Pass had 5.7 inches of rain.
Even normally dry areas in the Columbia Basin received soaking rain, with amounts of a half to three-quarters of an inch of rain reported in many locations. Ritzville had a little less at 0.37 inches of rain.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.