Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency for nearly all of Central and Eastern Washington. Twenty counties are facing heavy flooding as rapidly melting snow makes its way into rivers and streams.
Nine rivers east of the Cascades are seeing major or moderate flooding, or are nearing flood stage. Over the next few days, temperatures are forecast to rise to near or above 80 degrees. That means snow at higher elevations is likely to melt and enter waterways rapidly.
The emergency declaration covers Ferry, Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties which are already experiencing flooding, as well as 17 other counties in Central and in Eastern Washington where rivers are likely to flood in the coming days as temperatures rise.
In a statement, the governor said floodwaters have damaged water and sewage treatment facilities, inundated local roads and state highways and impacted utilities. Rural communities like Omak and Tonasket are seeing major flooding from the Okanogan River. In Pend Oreille County, residents of Usk, Cusick and Newport have been filling sandbags in anticipation of high waters on the Pend Oreille River.
The emergency proclamation allows the governor to activate Washington’s National Guard, if necessary. The flood threat is expected to persist for at least the next seven days.