Wednesday? More like winds day

Water splashes into the air as a car drives through a puddle at the intersection of Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue on Normal Hill on Tuesday afternoon in Lewiston. After a wet Tuesday, high winds are expected around the area today, particularly on the Camas Prairie.

Hold on tight to your hat today because winds throughout north central Idaho and eastern Washington are expected to be gusty and even push into the 75-mph range on the Camas Prairie.

Jerry Zumalt, emergency management coordinator for Idaho County, said Tuesday he had been contacted by Avista warning that high winds forecast from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. today could cause power outages and property damage.

“Who knows, but I’m sure we’re going to see something similar to that west of (Grangeville),” Zumalt said. “The wind can really funnel down over Mount Idaho and those mountain saddles. So it’s going to be significant.”

Zumalt said because there is not much snow on the ground, it’s unlikely the windstorm will trigger floods. But rockfall on the roads, downed trees and branches, and other property damage is likely.

In the Lewiston and Palouse area, winds may gust into the 35- to 37-mph range, according to the National Weather Service in Spokane, then taper off in the afternoon.

Valerie Thaler, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the heavy precipitation will slow down later today, and the rest of the week is expected to be drier and possibly even sunny.

This storm, Thaler said, is the tail end of a weather event that has been passing through the area since Sunday.

Although there has not been much snow and rain in the region since the beginning of the season, meteorologists said that the area does not appear to be in a drought situation and precipitation isn’t as far off from normal as it might seem.

Jonathan Fox, another meteorologist with the National Weather Service, confirmed that the area is not in a drought situation, even though there has not been much snowfall since Dec. 1.

Total precipitation on the Camas Prairie from Jan. 1 until Tuesday was 1.26 inches, measured at Cottonwood. The wettest period for those first 11 days of the year since 1976 was 2.85 inches of precipitation, he said.

“So it’s been warmer than normal and somewhat dry, but it’s not a drought,” Fox said. “All the mountains in that area are running close to normal as far as snowpack.”

Temperatures in the region are expected to range from the mid- to high 40s and in the mid-30s for the lows for the rest of the week.

Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.