Flooding possible as spring soaker aims for mountains

Flooding possible as spring soaker aims for mountains
SEATTLE -- March came in like a lion, but apparently is ending like several animals... going out, two by two.

A very strong, warm and wet storm track is pointed right at the Pacific Northwest, promising to bring several inches of rain to the mountains in two waves. Meanwhile, freezing levels are expected to jump to 7,000 to 8,000 feet, prompting flooding concerns.

A Flood Watch is in effect for mountain-fed rivers in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Clallam and Jefferson Counties from Wednesday afternoon through Friday afternoon. As much as 5-10 inches of rain is expected in the mountains by Friday

The first wave of rain will begin to fall Tuesday night, and will steadily go through midday Wednesday. We could get a few hours' break but rain will pick up again late Wednesday and could go into Thursday night or even Friday.

Forecast models agree that the Central Cascades are the most likely to receive the brunt of this rainfall, meaning the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Tolt and Stillaguamish Rivers have the highest risk of flooding. Also, the Skokomish River is a good bet, as always, to go over its banks. The National Weather Service says the Snohomish could reach major flood stage.

But the models are not in agreement who else will get that much rain. One models seems to think the rain will settle over the Central and North Cascades, while the other is leaning Central and Southern Cascades. The Olympic-fed rivers are also under-the-gun, but it looks like the Willapa Hills-fed rivers (like the Chehails) are not going to receive enough rain to have flooding concerns.

Heavy rain will also fall in the lowlands, but with one possible glaring exception -- the Central Puget Sound area. Here, you can probably spend your time doing something besides ark building.

The upper air flow is expected to be screaming at us from nearly due west, which typically sets up the famous Olympic Rain Shadow over the greater Seattle-Bremerton-Bellevue area. (That's right, we're borrowing it from Sequim. We'll bring it back with that weed whacker we borrowed next week.)

So it's possible during this event that Seattle is cloudy, warm, breezy, and occasionally sprinkling or a light shower, but nowhere near as wet as the surrounding areas.

The entire system will weaken and move off to the south on Friday, allowing cooler air to return and snow levels to drop back down to usual levels. We're still anticipating scattered showers over the weekend, but much lighter amounts and with snow back in the mountains, flooding concerns will end... and the animals can safely go about their April in their natural habitat.