Thunderstorms and drenching rain cause Spokane flooding

May 17, 2019 GMT

Thunderstorms unleashed drenching rains across Spokane on Thursday.

Minor flooding is reported across parts of the city, including downtown.

More storms are forecast for this evening.

A flood watch are in effect across Eastern Washington and North Idaho as heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Spokane started experiencing light drizzles about noon Thursday and dark clouds rolled in shortly before 5 p.m.

The National Weather Service predicted the rain would become increasingly heavy through Saturday morning, causing water to rise rapidly in some low areas and waterways, including Paradise Creek and the Coeur d’Alene and Saint Joe rivers.


Spokane, Whitman, Lincoln, Ferry, Okanogan, Kootenai, Benewah and Latah counties are all part of the flood watch area.

“We’re transitioning into a really wet system,” said Rocco Pelatti, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Spokane office.

Pelatti said the Saint Joe and Saint Maries rivers are likely to flood Saturday. He said drivers should expect lots of water on roads and should slow down or avoid those areas if necessary.

Some areas burned by recent fires might be vulnerable to landslides, he said.

Up to 2 inches of rain could fall on the Palouse, causing the potential for flash flooding. A sudden downpour a month ago caused severe flooding in Pullman and Moscow, sweeping up cars, damaging buildings and trapping about two dozen people inside businesses.

Though the rain follows several weeks of warm weather in Spokane, Pelatti said it’s normal for wet weather systems to move in from the south this time of year.

“May can be pretty wet, so it’s not that unusual,” he said.