Columbia finally drops below flood stage

Flood warnings expire for first time in weeks

By Craig Brown, Columbian metro editor

Published:

Updated: June 20, 2011, 7:25 PM

 

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Current National Weather Service data for the Columbia River

For the first time this month, the Columbia River at Vancouver has dropped below flood stage.

The river was at 14.46 feet Monday evening at the official river gauge near the Port of Vancouver’s grain terminal. Flood stage is 16 feet.

The river actually fell below flood stage Sunday. The National Weather Service cancelled its flood advisory at 11:29 a.m. Sunday when the river level was at 15.7 feet.

The National Weather Service predicts the river will slowly fall all week.

The flood warning was issued on May 28.

The only damage from flooding reported in the Vancouver area is to the waterfront trail near Tidewater Cove. The river has undercut the walkway, and a section of trail will remain closed until further notice, said Jane Kleiner, an official with Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation.

“It looks fine, but that’s because people can’t see underneath it,” said Kleiner, planning and development manager. Barricades will continue detouring walkers along that stretch of the trail.

Clean-up chores will begin this morning on a section of trail in front of Columbia Shores condominiums.

“Crews will start cleaning up mud on the trail and removing debris,” she said. When the trail is clean, it will be reopened.

In Washougal, the Columbia is still flooding the trail at Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach.

Chuck Orwig, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service and Northwest River Forecast Center, said the Columbia River still is above what we’d expect to see on the first day of summer in Vancouver.

“We’re still running well above average. Eight to 10 feet is reasonable at this time in the season,” he said Monday morning.

Another river indicator, the volume of water flowing past Vancouver, is close to normal for this time of year.

“This morning, it was 450,000 cubic feet per second,” Orwig said. “That’s slightly above average for this time of year. Over the next few days, to July 8, it will drop to 410,000.”

There still is some snow in Idaho, Montana and British Columbia that eventually will wind up in the Columbia River, but it shouldn’t be a problem here, Orwig said.

Oregon climatologists have calculated this is the second-wettest spring in that state in 117 years.

Meanwhile, the weather forecast calls for mostly sunny skies today, with a high near 80; tonight’s low will be around 54. Wednesday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny, with a high near 76.

There is a 20 percent chance of rain or drizzle on Thursday, with partly sunny skies and a high near 67.