Rain pushes local rivers to their highest since 2018

Sr 206 Flooding 4
Credit: WSDOT

SPOKANE, Wash.– The last time the Spokane River hit a flow over 21,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) was in May of 2018. That’s also the last time the Pend Oreille River hit a flow over 100,000 cfs. Both rivers broke these four-year streaks this week.

spokane river cfs 2017-2022

Spokane river flow (cfs) 2017-2022 via USGS

The Spokane River is expected to hit the action stage of 26 feet below the falls on Friday or Saturday. So far there’s no sign that the flow is going to slow down anytime soon. In Pend Oreille County flooding is expected to continue for an unknown amount of time. The flow at the Albeni Dam is forecast to increase to over 105,000 cfs after this coming weekend.

RELATED: Sandbags available in Pend Oreille County to prevent flooding damage

Alfw1 Hg

While the flooding in places like Mt. Spokane, Potlatch and Cataldo is subsiding, the high water has only begun around the bigger rivers in the Inland Northwest. After all those smaller rivers all feed into the bigger ones. Peak flow on larger rivers like the Kootenai, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Columbia will peak long after a heavy rain event. These rivers drain basins measuring many hundreds of thousands of square miles combined.Pndo Watershed

RELATED: Water runoff washes away part of SR 206 near Mt. Spokane

The Pend Oreille River in particular drains a large portion of Western Montana through the Clark Fork and Flathead rivers. Not only is the heavy rain in North Idaho causing the river to rise, but the heavy rain in Glacier National Park will make its way downriver too. Flooding along the Pend Oreille will likely be a threat for many days ahead. The U.S. Weather Prediction Center is also alerting to the possibility of heavy rain in Northwest Montana between Saturday and Tuesday. Additional rain in the overstrained Pend Oreille basin would only prolong current flooding issues. A flood warning remains in effect for Pend Oreille County, Washington.

7 Day Rain And River Flow

Heavy Rain Risk

The recent flooding is a product of some rare June heavy rain between the 10th and the 13th. 1.52 inches in those four days brought the rain total in Spokane to 2.38 inches for the first half of June. That is the seventh-wettest first half of June on record and would be the 21st-wettest June if we had no more rain this month. Spokane weather records go back to 1881.

RELATED: Floods leave Yellowstone ‘dramatically changed’