Photo by Brock Hires
The Okanogan River has risen to minor flood stage in the Tonasket area. National Weather Service officials have issued a flood warning for the Okanogan Valley.
As of Wednesday, June 11, 2014
TONASKET A National Weather Service flood warning for low-lying areas along the Okanogan River remains in effect.
In an updated statement Tuesday, the Weather Service reported flooding along the river near Oroville, Tonasket, Omak-Okanogan and Monse.
“Minor flooding on the Okanogan River is due to recent snowmelt from the warm temperatures,” the flood warning statement said. “The Okanogan is expected to remain in minor flood stage ... it will then lower to action stage through the end of the week.”
But meteorologists predict that the lower water levels will only be temporary as the Okanogan River is expected to start rising again over the coming weekend and reach minor flood stage again next Monday.
Officials are warning residents and visitors to avoid flood waters.
“The spring snowmelt runoff in lakes and rivers is dangerously cold and can be life-threatening for those that come into contact with the water,” officials said. “Take appropriate precautions.”
The flood waters are also expected to sweep debris into the river, making conditions hazardous for boaters, swimmers and fishermen.
“Be aware of large debris in the river,” officials said. “High water levels can push logs and other large debris into the river, increasing the danger to people and boats.”
As of 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, the Okanogan River was at 15.46 feet at Tonasket — flood stage is 15 feet, officials said.
Flooding was reported on some farmlands adjacent to the river from Oroville to Monse. The waters had also covered some dirt-road river accesses.
“At 16 feet, pasture land between Rodeo Trail Road and Benton Street, on the East Side of the river near Omak, will begin to flood,” officials said.
“Never drive cars, trucks or sport-utility vehicles through flooded areas,” officials said. “The water may be too deep to allow for safe passage.”
The river was forecast to rise to as high as 16.4 feet before falling, meteorologists said. Water levels are not expected to rise above 17 feet, which is the moderate flood stage level, officials said, noting that if the water reached that high some homes near Okanogan could have flooded basements.