WALLA WALLA — The big freeze is going to give way to a big thaw this week.
After nearly a week of below-freezing temperatures followed by snow, warmer, wetter and windier weather is in the forecast.
A warm front moving across the region will drive highs into the 40s and lower 50s, as well as bring rain and gusty winds. The rain will begin moving in tonight and continue through the rest of the week.
The snow melt combined with the rain will raise water levels in creeks, streams and rives and could bring flooding in some areas later this week, according to the weather service.
Since the start of the month temperatures have averaged nearly 17 degrees below normal with the lowest low hitting 7 degrees on Feb. 6 as measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport.
According to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, snowfall has totaled about 9 inches in the Walla Walla area since it started falling last week.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would begin diverting water from Mill Creek into Bennington Lake when the flow in the channel reaches 2,400 cubic feet per second, said Gina Baltrusch, public relations specialist. Gates are adjusted incrementally to divert water from Mill Creek to manage flows through town.
In 1982 it was determined that flows over 3,500 cubic feet persecond for an extended period of time has the potential to damage the Mill Creek channel components, Baltrusch said.
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318.