Spokane hydrologist talks longevity of area floods

The Okanogan River in Tonasket is forecasted to reach 21.59 feet Thursday, May 17.

Photo by Brock Hires
The Okanogan River in Tonasket is forecasted to reach 21.59 feet Thursday, May 17.



Road closures, flood warnings and a few evacuations came at the hand of region flooding this week, but a second peak – perhaps higher – awaits next week, officials said Thursday.

The Okanogan River is expected to peak at 20.1 feet by Saturday, May 12, according to the National Weather Service.

Then, a heat push between Sunday, May 13, and Tuesday, May 15, will likely trigger the next influx of snowmelt in the upper Okanagan basin above Lake Osoyoos in Canada, said Katherine Rowden, hydrologist for the National Weather Service’s Spokane office.

The Okanogan River in Tonasket, for instance, is forecasted to reach 21.59 feet Thursday, May 17. As of 6 p.m. Thursday, May 10, it measured 19.06 feet.

Cooler temperatures could halt some of the snowmelt Wednesday, May 16, to Sunday, May 19, although that also invites the less welcome possibility of mountain showers, Rowden said.

The current and forecasted river levels, which update multiple times per day, can be found by visiting www.weather.gov/otx/Hydrology and selecting “AHPS Rivers and Lakes.”

Flood warnings have been issued for the Okanogan River in Tonasket, Similkameen River in Nighthawk, Methow River at Pateros, Lake Osoyoos, NF Salmon Creek through Conconully, Salmon Creek above Okanogan and Chewuch River.

Rowden said a probability chart estimates flood waters will remain two or possibly three weeks.

“There’s a really good chance we’ll be below moderate flood stage at the third week, but there is a chance we’ll stay above major (flood stage) for a third week.”



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