Another storm is on its way to soak Western Washington on Saturday night, but the region’s rivers should have enough time to drain their floodwater by then. The Skagit River peaked 5 feet above flood stage early Friday.
Another rainstorm is traveling across the Pacific Ocean to soak Western Washington on Saturday night, but the region’s rivers should have enough time to drain their floodwater by then.
The Skagit River, which peaked at 5 feet above flood stage Friday morning, already dropped a couple of feet by midafternoon, with help from low tide in Puget Sound, and it will continue to recede.
“It’s a fairly large river that can pass water out quickly,” said Brent Bower, a National Weather Service hydrologist.
The weekend forecast includes two or three rainy episodes, with the biggest coming late Saturday and early Sunday.
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That system, now off California, could bring a half-inch to Puget Sound lowlands, 1½ inches to Grays Harbor and the ocean coast, between 2 and 3½ inches in the Olympic mountains, and a bit less in the Cascade range.
“This one, right now, does not appear as juicy as the system we had earlier in the week,” said Allen Kam, a weather-service meteorologist.
However, there will be winds of 20 to 30 mph at times, along with gusts of up to 40 mph. Lows will be in the upper 30s and highs in the lower 50s.
The weather service issued a statement late Friday about possible mudslides. Ground in the lowlands has been saturated by 2 inches of rain this week. Some places absorbed more, including 4 to 9 inches in the north Cascades, which melted early snow and fed rivers.
Highway 20 in Rockport was partly scoured out Friday afternoon by the Skagit River. Traffic is reduced to one lane for the next few weeks, and alternating traffic will be controlled by a temporary signal until the ground can be reinforced, said the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The Skagit rose to its highest point in 11 years Friday morning, peaking at 33.15 feet above sea level around 10 a.m., far above the flood stage of 28 feet.
Water overflowed onto the Skagit Riverwalk Plaza in downtown Mount Vernon, which authorities closed. A new flood wall there defended low parts of downtown, tweeted the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management.
Footage from The Weather Channel showed logs floating on a brown mass of water past a Skagit Valley railroad bridge and inundated trees.
The modern record is 37 feet in November 1990. Homes in the upstream town of Hamilton were surrounded by floodwaters in October 2003, and the river on Thursday reached the foundation of the town hall.
The Stillaguamish River also flooded this week, Bower said. A meat store, roads and a few homes in the Stillaguamish town of Silvana were isolated for several hours by rising water, local television stations reported.
King County closed its flood-warning center early Friday after rivers began to recede. Minor flooding was reported on the Green and White rivers.
Rivers might rise early Sunday when the next wet system arrives, but generally should stay below their Thanksgiving night flood levels, Kam said.