Rivers and lakes reaching flood stage in inland Northwest

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The National Weather Service in Spokane issued a flood warning Tuesday for numerous lakes and rivers in Eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

Rising temperatures this week will increase snowmelt and runoff into waterways, the Weather Service said.

Minor flooding is already occurring on the Similkameen River near Nighthawk, and major flooding is forecast for later in the week.

The Okanogan River near Tonasket is running at more than 18 feet (5.5 meters), while flood stage is 15 feet (4.6 meters). The Okanogan is expected to rise to more than 21 feet

(6.4 meters) by Saturday, which may flood some homes and farmlands, the Weather Service said.

That prompted Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers on Tuesday to close the river to all recreational activities because of high flows, cold temperatures and debris in the water.

“No boating, swimming or any other activity is allowed on the river until further notice,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

The Kettle River above Curlew is also above flood stage and major flooding is expected, the Weather Service said.

In northern Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille is expected to reach flood stage on Thursday.

Jess Goetz, who lives near the town of Bayview, is busy this week filling bags of sand to protect his lakefront home.

“She’s just starting,” Goetz told the Coeur d’Alene Press of the lake’s water rise.

Goetz endured the floods of 1997 and 2011, but he said this year’s rise is much swifter than those years.

As of Monday morning, the lake was at 2,062.5 feet

(629.6 meters), one foot (0.3 meters) below flood stage.

“This comes with living in a beautiful God-given area,” Goetz said. “I’ll take a flood and continue to live here because this is God’s country.”

The lake is expected to rise to 2,065.2 feet (629.5) by next Monday.

Minor flooding is also predicted for the St. Joe River at St. Maries, Idaho. The river is expected to rise above flood stage early Wednesday morning.