Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Will Pend Oreille Flood?

Watching the continuation of snow fall in the mountains, I have started to remember June, 1997 when Lake Pend Oreille rose out of it's normal summer banks and flooded many buildings and in some cases, float homes floated up past the height of pilings and wandered off.

I called Craig Brengle, US Army Corps of Engineers and asked him one question. "Will Lake Pend Oreille flood this year?" His answer was, "There is a very good chance it will." He went on to say, "The snow pack in Northern Idaho and Western Montana is over 150% of normal. The risk of flooding is absolutely there, but depends on the rate of snow melt."

A sudden warm spell punctuated by heavy rainfall could tip us over. He went on to say, "we will shortly open Albeni Falls Dam all the way and let the build up of water escape down the Pend Oreille River. This could very likely cause flooding in the river valleys."

The 1997 flood was about 2.5 feet above normal summer level. This year there is a possibility of even higher water, again depending on the rate of melt. Since '97, marinas have lengthened the pilings so that most of the docks should stay put.

***More stats: Normal summer level is 2062.5. Flooding is at 2063.5. A moderate flood state is measured at 2066. 1997's flood was at 2065.74. In the Corps estimated worst case happens, it would be slightly worse than 1997.


Anonymous said...


The Army Corps issued a press release yesterday indicating that the lake could rise as high as 2066 ft which is 3.5 - 4 feet higher than normal.

Bay Views said...

Aha! I scooped everyone this time. Craig at Albeni Falls didn't quote the figures you mentioned, since the potential rises and falls with the melt rate. I does appear to be serious though. Thanks for the tip on the press release. I wonder if my call prompted the release?

neerbllib said...

Hey thanks for the statistics on the lake levels. Do you have any ideas a as to the losses/ damage as a result of the 1997 flood. I personally was not affected that much, thankfully, but I know a lot of folks that were.