KOOTENAI COUNTY -- Lake Coeur d'Alene's predicted water rise is having a ripple effect.
The National Weather Service and Avista on Friday predicted the lake's level could rise 5 to 6 feet above the summer mark of 2,128 feet later this month, which would trigger a law for an automatic no-wake zone designation for the lake, Spokane River and waters within the Coeur d'Alene River drainage.
"There's a really good possibility that it will get that high," said Patrick Maher, an Avista hydrologist.
When John Lenhart, who has lived on the lake for 20 years, learned about the prediction, he had flashbacks to 1997 when wind and wakes caused $20,000 worth of erosion damage to his Rockford Bay property.
"My bank was eroded and the landscaping was destroyed," he said.
That was before the no-wake law took effect. But Lenhart hopes boaters will still be cognizant of the damage high water can cause, even if the law doesn't kick in.
"A 40-foot boat can be in the middle of the lake and still throw a 3-foot wake on the shore," he said. "People should use their heads, and they shouldn't be on the lake when the water is high anyway. I'm watching deadheads come down from the Coeur d'Alene River now."
The lake level was about a foot above the summer mark on Friday, which is typical, Avista spokesman Hugh Imhof said. However, a cool April prevented higher-than-normal snow in lower elevations from melting, so an onslaught of water is expected.
"If we get rain or warm temperatures, it's going to rise real fast," Imhof said.
It's a situation that's beyond Avista's control this time of year, Imhof said. Avista controls the Post Falls dam, which is either a relief valve or plug for the lake level.
"We've got everything wide open (at the dam)," Imhof said. We don't control the level of the lake this time of year. It's Mother Nature doing its own thing.
"The lake has a constriction by the college (North Idaho College) and the water will only come out so fast at that gap."
The predicted water rise is expected to cause hurdles for boaters.
The boat launch at Q'emiln Park in Post Falls, which is next to Avista's dam, generally opens in mid-June after the gates close, but it is not expected to open until the Fourth of July or after this year, Imhof said.
Sandy Von Behren of the Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management said the last time a no-wake zone for the lake was asked of boaters was in 1997 (prior to the law) when the level reached more than 8 feet above the summer mark.
Sixty-two home and business owners on the lake were impacted, Von Behren said.
"High waters cause debris on the lake, which can become hazardous to boaters and skiers," she said.
Von Behren said the Coeur d'Alene River at Cataldo peaked at 42.35 feet on Thursday. The no-wake law would have come into effect at 43 feet.
Greg Koch of the National Weather Service said temperatures are predicted to be in the upper 50s and 60s this weekend and early next week. However, the temperature could reach 70 on Wednesday and nearly 80 by Thursday or Friday.
"Spring melt has started a little bit, but it is developing later than usual this year," Koch said. "With all the snowpack and the warmer temperatures that are predicted for the middle of next week, that's something we're watching closely."
Von Behren said residents who live in a flood plain should consider flood insurance. However, it takes 30 days after the plan is purchased for it to take effect.
The lake level and its projections are available by calling 769-1357.
and heres a link to the forcast charts