Several central and eastern Oregon rivers are at risk of flooding this week.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the Silvies River in Harney County, where water is already encroaching on fields and private property. High water and flood warnings are also in place in Klamath, Grant, Wheeler, Wallowa and Malheur counties in Oregon and Asotin County in eastern Washington.
In much of the region, the winter snow pack was 130–150 percent above average. Recent warm temperatures are now causing that snow pack to shrink.
“That’s allowed … rivers and streams to see that increased runoff and increased flow pretty much all the way across the region,” said Marilyn Lohmann, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Pendleton.
Meterologists predict more rain across the region Friday and Saturday, which could increase flood potential.
In Wheeler County, the John Day River was at 10.5 feet as of Wednesday. Flood stage is 11.5 feet. The National Weather Service predicts the river will reach about 12.3 feet by Friday morning.
In Prineville, the Crooked River is currently flooding onto the Meadow Lakes Golf Course. And in Grant County, Canyon City residents are keeping a close eye on Canyon Creek, which is currently running near flood stage. The flood risk in that drainage is greater because of the 2015 Canyon Creek Complex Fire, which burned through much of the vegetation that keeps soil in place.
Most of the region’s water eventually runs to the Columbia River, said Lohmann.
The Columbia is currently above flood stage in Vancouver and is expected to remain high for the next several days. At current levels, the high water is spilling into lowland areas like roads, parking areas and trails. Access to some house-boat communities could also be impaired.
Agency officials warn drivers to turn around when encountering flooded roadways. One foot of water on a road is enough to stop even high-clearance vehicles.
For information about flood warnings currently in effect, visit the National Weather Service page.