Flood warnings remained in effect in Snohomish county in Washington state after a week of heavy rains pelted the western half of the state causing closures throughout the region. The National Weather Service reported minor flooding of the Snohomish and Snoqualmie Rivers although water levels are expected to drop late Saturday or Sunday. Western Washington has been battling rising waters all week in the Puyallup, Skykomish, Skagit, North Fork Stillaguamish and South Fork Nooksack Rivers.
The Puyallup River overflowed its bank last Tuesday delivering major flooding to the areas homes and farms and eroding the levees. Pierce County crews supervised the safety operation, keeping an eye on the many streams and tributaries that branch off the Puyallup. County operations manager, Tony Fantello, notes that the heavy rainfall is not only affecting the rivers but also urban areas as well.
The Gold Bar area, near the Skykomish and Wallace Rivers was also hit with heavy rain and a warning of moderate flooding in Sultan, Index and Gold Bar. Heavy rains over the Cascades is contributing to the flood conditions in western Washington. The city’s block watch confirmed although the city has sandbags, they are in need of hands to fill them. The City shop yard was left open and sand and shovels made available to any who wanted to help. The local paper even listed the name, address and phone number of a woman who needed help sandbagging her home and was unable to complete the task on her own.
Heavy rains have closed many roads due to water over the roadways, as well as fallen trees, blocking traffic in Pierce County. South of Seattle, a boardwalk in Des Moines closed because of high tides and tall waves. Dangerous conditions and inundated roads shut down Mt. Rainier National Park earlier in the week. Seattle Public Utility crews were checking out several reports of ponding in different locations around Seattle but found no evidence of system malfunctions on Friday.
Clogged drains caused puddles to collect in the streets arund the Puget Sound area on Friday morning. With water blocking main routes and some trucks and cars stranded in the standing water, officials urged drivers to look for alternative routes and drive cautiously. Better yet, drivers should avoid driving in the flooded areas, as this accounts for the majority of flood-related deaths.
The National Weather Services reports that the Snohomish River crested at 25.2 feet at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and will now recede. The minor flooding will affect lowland areas not protected by levees. They ended the warning for the Snoqualmie River but continue to watch the Snohomish River and vicinity for signs of flooding, damage and unsafe conditions.
Although the heavy rains and flooding are receding, cold weather will be sticking around for a while according to the forecast. Seattle, Lynnwood, Mukilteo, Everett, Marysville and Lake Stevens received heavy snowfall on Saturday morning. Thousands of homes in western Washington experienced power outages with the sudden freeze. A total of 29,995 homes went without power for a time on Saturday. Most are restored but Puget Sound Energy still had 9,500 homes dark by Saturday night. With the floods limiting transportation options and the freezing weather, some customers could be in for a long cold night until power is restored.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Image courtesy of Tom Sayles – Flickr Image