North Idaho winters are typically long, frigid, and relentless, routinely dragging on into the beginning of April. Snow banks are slow to thaw, and several weeks of miserable rainy weather and slippery roads make travel a bother, to say the least.
However, recent spring weather has left many students high and dry in the transportation department, with mudslides blocking roads and floods preventing travel, even across some stretches of highways in the area.
Heavy rainfall over the past week, coupling with thawing snowbanks, have put many areas on risk for flooding, and the roads are becoming increasingly dangerous as conditions worsen.
As counties scrambled to deal with flooding and mudslides caused by the spring weather, Governor Butch Otter signed state disaster declarations for seven North Idaho counties on March 21st.
These counties included the Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Kootenai, Latah, and Shoshone counties.
Kootenai County has declared a flood emergency after heavy flooding has caused damage to property, and the potential for more damage looms still as more snow melts
and precipitation adds to the rising waters.
According to the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, twenty-five Idaho counties have local declarations pertaining to snowfall or flooding in their areas. Water levels of the Coeur d’ Alene River, the St. Joe River and other bodies of water within the counties have risen dramatically, resulting in widespread flooding and roads being submerged under the water.
The weather has prevented many from being able to reach their work or get to school. The rapidly rising temperatures, combined with frequent precipitation, have created a perfect set of circumstances for hazardous mudslides and flooding.
Weather advisories are in effect until early next week, as more precipitation is expected over the weekend. Counties in the area are still on alert for mudslides, avalanches, and further flooding as the situation develops.