Evacuations in Lewis Co. amid flood, mudslide warnings

Evacuations in Lewis Co. amid flood, mudslide warnings »Play Video
Floodwaters of the Skykomish River cover Mann Road in Snohomish County.
Residents of two Lewis County towns were being evacuated Sunday as flood warnings and watches were issued across much of Western Washington and the risk of mudslides increased.

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Officials also said some residential flooding is possible along the Snohomish River at Monroe Sunday night through Tuesday morning as the river rises several feet above flood stage. Levees also will likely suffer damage in the Snohomish River Basin, officials said.

Emergency personnel were going door to door in low-lying areas of Randle in Lewis County to notify residents they should evacuate their homes due to expected flooding on the Cowlitz River. Evacuations were recommended in parts of Packwood as well.

Authorities weren't sure whether the Cowlitz would rise high enough to flood homes, but the evacuations were recommended as a precaution.

The evacuations and warnings came as rain continued falling from the latest in a series of wet, mild weather systems and snowmelt accelerated in the mountains.

At the same time, mudslides continued to plague the region, and the National Weather Service warned that more slides are likely.

Sea-Tac Airport has received more than 2 1/2 inches of rain over the past few days, while locations near the Cascades, along the coast and elsewhere have received much more, saturating already-waterlogged soils.

Another round of rainfall, ranging from a quarter to a half inch, is expected in the Puget Sound lowlands Sunday night as a cold front moves across the area. More than an inch of additional rain is expected in the mountains.

An avalanche warning was issued for the Olympics and western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, and gale warnings were out for the inland waters of Western Washington.

But the most immediate concern was for the flooding potential.

View an updated map of flooding forecasts »

"Rivers are already running high and soils are saturated due to heavy rain that has fallen over the area since Wednesday, which will worsen the potential for flooding," said the Weather Service flood watch.

The Cowlitz River in Randle is expected to cover Highway 12 by late Sunday afternoon and rise several feet above flood stage by late Sunday night or Monday morning.

And floodwaters covered both lanes of Highway 202 near Fall City in King County by Sunday evening.

The Snohomish River at Monroe is expected to peak at 17 feet at about 4 a.m. Monday and remain above flood stage until 4 a.m. Tuesday. At 17 feet the Snohomish River will cause major flooding, inundating farm land, roads, and some residential areas. Levees will likely suffer damage.

In addition, warnings were issued for:

• Moderate flooding on the Skagit River near Concrete affecting Skagit County.

• Moderate flooding on the Skykomish River near Gold Bar affecting Snohomish County.

• Major flooding on the Snohomish River near Monroe affecting Snohomish County.

• Moderate flooding on the Snohomish River at Snohomish affecting Snohomish County.

• Flooding on the North Fork Stillaguamish River near Arlington, the South Fork Stillaguamish River near Granite Falls and the Stillaguamish River at Arlington affecting Snohomish County.

• Flooding on the Tolt River near Carnation affecting King County.

• Flooding on the Snoqualmie River Near the falls affecting King County.

• Flooding the Snoqualmie River near Carnation affecting King County.

• Minor flooding on the Green River near Auburn affecting King County.

• Minor flooding on the Skokomish River near Potlatch affecting Mason County.

• Minor flooding on the Carbon River near Fairfax affecting Pierce County.

• Flooding on the Puyallup River near Orting affecting Pierce County.

• Moderate flooding on the Nisqually River near National affecting Lewis and Pierce counties.

• Moderate flooding on the Cowlitz River at Packwood affecting Lewis County.

• Minor flooding on the Newaukum River near Chehalis affecting Lewis County.

• Minor flooding on the Deschutes River near Rainier affecting Thurston County.

• Major flooding on the Cowlitz River at Randle affecting Lewis County.

• Minor flooding on the Satsop River near Satsop affecting Grays Harbor County.

• Minor flooding on the Cowlitz River at Kelso affecting Cowlitz County.

In addition, flooding is expected on several other rivers in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon, as well as urban areas and small streams in Lewis, Mason, eastern Grays Harbor, central Snohomish and Thurston counties.

The Army Corps of Engineers said it is sending out flood fight teams, and the Corps' Emergency Operations Center and Reservoir Control Center are moving to 24-hour operations.

The flood teams are deploying to the Snohomish, Green, White, Chehalis and Yakima river basins Saturday night and Sunday. Flood teams are on alert for the Nooksack and Skagit basins.

Army Corps officials said there is a risk of flooding for rural property owners along the middle Green River, but there do not appear to be flooding concerns for the more highly populated areas downstream, including Auburn, Kent, Tukwila or Renton.

In addition, a large mudslide buried Highway 112 at Rasmussen Creek in Clallam County, where an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 cubic yards of mud covered the roadway. One lane of the highway is now reopened, but it will be several days before both lanes are open, transportation officials said. View photos »

A mudslide is still blocking busy West Valley Highway E. in Sumner, and the roadway there will remain closed from 24th Street on the north to Sumner Heights Drive on the south through at least Tuesday morning.

The National Weather Service said there will be an elevated risk of additional mudslides in Western Washington through the middle of next week.

Several local access roads also are closed along the Snoqualmie River in King County due to water over the roadway. View the complete list of King County road closures.

This is a developing news story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.