Rain floods area rivers as night falls

Rain floods area rivers as night falls »Play Video
Image provided by YouNews user jferparrott.
SEATTLE -- After days of heavy rain, rivers in many areas of Western Washington were already spilling over their banks and some were not expected to crest until early Thursday morning.

Just before 5 p.m., City of Snoqualmie officials urged residents in the neighborhoods of Pickering Court, Walnut, Spruce, Park, Mountain Avenue, and Mountain Drive to evacuate due rising waters on the Snoqualmie River.

Three counties have already declared states of emergency as torrential downpours sent more than a dozen rivers over their banks, inundating homes and farms.

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said increasing concerns on the Skykomish, Snohomish and Stillaguamish rivers led to the signing of the proclamation for his county.

The Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management earlier urged residents along Tualco Loop Road, Tester Road and 164th/Ben Howard Road to prepare for evacuation due to rising flood waters on the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers. Waters in that area were expected to rise above flood stage and begin covering roadways near noon.

Voluntary evacuations also were occurring in Index, Sultan and Gold Bar as waters from the Skykomish and Wallace rivers began to overflow.

Law enforcement and fire crews in Gold Bar helped a family of four escape from rising waters surrounding their home, while fire crews near Startup assisted a family living near the Skykomish River evade flood waters.

East of Monroe, in Sultan, Don Marshall borrowed a friend's red kayak and paddled around some flooded houses by the U.S. Highway 2 bridge near the confluence of the Sultan and Skykomish rivers. Sandbags were placed around some downtown businesses, and a stream of residents and business owners filled sandbags from a pile of sand on Main Street.

"We do it every year. Everybody sticks together, starts bagging bags," said resident Timothy Bryant.

But despite all the efforts, even the aged pros couldn't keep up with the rivers rising at such a rapid pace. When all was said and done on Wednesday night, some residents found their basements knee-deep in water.

"This isn't normal; this is about every five to ten years. It's serious," Bryant said.

"Sad, muddy, floody jacuzzi," said Chuck Estes of the water in the basement of his feed store.

Still, Estes said, the damp conditions Wednesday night were an improvement from the afternoon when cars were being swallowed by raging floodwaters and boats appeared to be the only way to get around town.

To accommodate displaced families, the American Red Cross has opened a shelter at the VOA Sky Valley Camp, 701 First St., Sultan, and another shelter at the Rock Church, 16891 146th St. SE, Monroe.

The Snohomish County Public Works department is delivering sand and sandbags to a half-dozen fire stations and parks where people can pick them up.

And the county has opened barns at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe to take in horses and cows that have been moved out of floodwaters.

In Pierce County, officials declared a state of emergency for severe flooding on the Puyallup, Nisqually and Carbon rivers. Wednesday morning, their emergency operations center sent out a notice to 200 residents south of Orting near the Carbon River encouraging them to evacuate due to rising river levels.

Becky Newell was one of those 200 leaving her home along the river bank.

"I'm not afraid of my house getting a little water in it," she says, but she is concerned about river debris jumping the dikes. "And if (the shoreline) breaks down too far, I won't be able to get out the road."

As locals hustled to keep up with the rising rivers, resident John Herrington appeared fatigued, having to once again a drill that has become very familiar over the years.

"Be've talked about a flood wall," he said. "But some of the people don't want to do that because it will interfere with their view. I'd as soon not have so much of the view if it'll keep the water out of my house."

In Cosmopolis, a small dam failed, flooding several streets and nearby homes with several inches of water. The dam at Mill Creek Park gave way after it was weakened by a falling tree. The city has hired a contractor to make repairs.

Red Cross has opened two shelters in the county. A shelter Cedar Springs Community Church at 13314 224th Street East in Graham is operating, as is the one at Buckley Hall at 127 North River Avenue in Buckley.

King County officials said with the Tolt and Snoqualmie Rivers under historic flooding conditions, they fear the situation may worsen overnight. To report flooded roadways or flooding storm drains, residents can call 206-296-8100.

In Carnation, about 1,000 customers of Puget Sound Energy lost power for about an hour on Wednesday night after a toppling tree limb brushed a power line and caused the power switches to flip.

Just east of Enumclaw, a huge landslide dumped debris onto State Route 410 at Greenwater River at milepost 41 and shut down the roadway in both directions around 6 p.m.The Department of Transportation said the landslide, which is 20 feet tall and 100 feet wide, will not be cleared off until the morning. DOT officials said the landslide hit several cars. However, officials do not believe any cars were trapped under the debris.

In Grays Harbor County, The WSDOT reports water has covered several highways in the Aberdeen area: Highway 12 at Aberdeen, Highway 101 near Artic and also in places on Highway 8 and 108.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for numerous rivers in Western Washington on Tuesday night as a series of Pacific storms brought heavy rain in the Olympics and Cascades. Rain there had been falling at the rate of over 0.50" an hour and some spots had already received over 5" of rain as of early Wednesday morning with more on the way.

The river list is impressive and includes the Satsop, Nooksack, Skokomish, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Skykomish, Snohomish, Tolt, Snoqualmie, Cedar, Deschutes, Carbon, Puyallup, Nisqually, Cowlitz and Chehalis Rivers.

Flooding on the Nisqually River has forced officials to close Mount Rainier National Park.

"The waters of Kautz Creek are now flowing over the park road," Taylor said.

The road to Longmire has flood over and there are about 20 park employees and seven hotel were guests stranded at the Longmire facility, Taylor said. They were later escorted out using a service road.

Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga says he hopes the park will be able to reopen as soon as the rain tapers off and the water level drops.

In Skagit County, the Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Hamilton First Baptist Church at 797 Hamilton Cemetery Road in Hamilton.

River Information:

We've compiled a list of internet sites that will help you get more information about flooding, including road closures. You can find it at this link.

As of 8:00 p.m., here is the forecasted breakdown of rivers (Click on each river for detailed river forecast information). Some flood warnings have been canceled and many others have been downgraded as the worst as passed. Still, many won't crest until late Wednesday night or early Thursday.

Major:
Carbon at Fairfax
Nisqually near National
Skokomish near Potlatch
Snohomish near Monroe
Snohomish near Snohomish
Snoqualmie near the Falls
Snoqualmie near Carnation
Tolt near Carnation

Moderate:
Cowlitz at Randle
Satsop near Satsop
Skagit near Concrete
Skykomish at Gold Bar

Minor:
Chehalis near Grand Mound.
Cowlitz at Packwood
Deschutes near Rainier
Nooksack at Ferndale
Puyallup near Orting
Puyallup at Puyallup
Skagit near Mount Vernon
Stillaguamish at Arlington

Go to this link to see the latest river and wind warnings.

Canceled:
Bogachiel
Cedar near Renton
Cedar near Landsburg
Nooksack (South Fork)
Nooksack at N. Cedarville
Stillaguamish at Arlington
Stillaguamish (South Fork)

Here are some other rainfall totals from private weather spotters who have phoned in their totals to the National Weather Service:

Montesano: 5.70" of rain in 12 hours
Grand Mound: 2.84" of rain in 24 hours
Randle: 2.25" of rain in 17 hours
Shelton: 2.06" of rain in 24 hours
Black Diamond: 1.75" in 24 hours

Latest Forecast

The storm's cold front is slowly sagging south through the day Wednesday, and the rain has let up in the North Cascades. Heavy rain will continue in the Central and South Cascades through the afternoon, but slowly taper from the north, and by evening, most of the steady rain should be down in Oregon.

Those in the Puget Sound area must wonder what all the fuss was about as rain totals were running about an inch or less, but that was due to the Olympic Rain Shadow.

With the nearly west-to-east orientation of the front and upper level winds, it means a lot of rain was blocked by the Olympic Mountains. Since midnight, Seattle (Sea-Tac Airport) had received about 2/3 of a inch of rain, while Everett had only netted about 1/3 of an inch in the rain bucket. But Olympia and Hoquiam have had nearly 1.50" -- and look at those totals in Montesano -- nearly 6" of rain in 12 hours!

So don't let the not-so-heavy rain fool you here -- especially those who live near the mouths of mountain rivers. It might not be raining much here, but it's dumping buckets upon buckets in the mountains so don't let your guard down.

Help Be A Weather Spotter

When a storm rolls through, you never really know for sure how much rain will fall, but you at home can play a big role in helping forecasters learn about the wide-ranging climate in the Northwest.

The National Weather Service is recruiting volunteers to measure the daily rain, hail and snow at their house, then put it in a database that's accessible to the public.

So far, they have 400 people signed up, but they still need hundreds more.

If you'd like to join or get more information, go to CoCoRaHS.org

Winds

This storm was windier than the past few, but didn't cause many problems. The highest wind gusts were around 40-45 mph in the few hours after midnight and are now on their way down.

Here are some peak gusts since midnight. Note that I didn't bother with any gusts under 25 knots, so some major cities that were left off just didn't get that windy.

  • Hoquiam: 49 mph
  • Alki Beach (Seattle): 42 mph
  • Shelton: 40 mph
  • Seattle (Sand Point): 38 mph
  • Gig Harbor/Tacoma (Narrows Airport): 38 mph
  • Seattle (West Point/Magnolia): 36 mph
  • Everett: 36 mph
  • Bellingham: 35 mph
  • Oak Harbor: 33 mph
  • Seattle (Sea-Tac): 33 mph
  • Olympia: 28 mph

The Associated Press contributed to this report.