A torrential storm blew through parts of Western Washington all day Sunday and into Monday, causing landslides and major flooding, forcing evacuations in the city of Snoqualmie and along the Washington coast, and prompting the Quinault Indian Nation to declare a state of emergency on its reservation.
Enough rain fell from Sunday morning to Monday morning to cause flooding on a dozen rivers throughout the region. While only about an inch fell in Seattle, many areas in the Cascades received more than 6 inches, and rainfall in parts of the Southwest Olympics amounted to13 inches, National Weather Service meteorologist Josh Smith said.
The Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers in King County experienced the worst flooding in the region as runoff from the mountains continued to flow downstream and water levels continued to rise even after the rain had stopped.
As levels in the Snoqualmie River rose Monday afternoon, the city of Snoqualmie issued evacuation notices for residents of a downtown neighborhood. The river reached a Phase 4 flood stage, meaning some residential areas could experience “dangerous, high velocities and flooding of homes,” according to the King County Flood Warning Center.
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The weather service issued flood warnings for the Snoqualmie River near Carnation in King County. In Snohomish County, warnings were issued for the Stillaguamish River near Arlington, the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers near Monroe, and the Snohomish and Pilchuck rivers in the Snohomish area.
It also issued a flood warning for the Puyallup River near Orting in Pierce County, the Skokomish River near Potlatch and the Chehalis River near Centralia, Grand Mound and Porter. The warnings remain in effect until Wednesday evening.
Monday afternoon, residents and businesses of the Southeast Park Street neighborhood of Snoqualmie were urged to evacuate the area immediately, the city said, while residents along the Snoqualmie River were told to make necessary preparations in case an evacuation order were issued. Shelter was made available at the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA.
The Snoqualmie River crested Monday, and just before 6 p.m. the city of Snoqualmie said the waters were beginning to recede. Other rivers in Western Washington have crested as well, with the exception of the Chehalis, which is expected to crest Tuesday.
Earlier, Highway 203 was closed in both directions between Carnation and Fall City, and Highway 202 was closed between Highway 203 and Southeast Fish Hatchery Road because of flooding, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), but both highways reopened early Tuesday morning.
The King County Department of Transportation advised drivers to review the latest closure information online before traveling Tuesday.
Coast hit hard
On the Washington coast, water damaged at least three homes, and multiple landslides closed roadways, including one that cut off about 200 residents in Hoquiam, where slightly more than 6 inches of rain had fallen in a 24-hour period by Monday morning. A woman in her 80s was rescued after a mudslide hit her Aberdeen home and trapped her in the house. She was taken to the hospital in good condition, officials said.
Office-building owner Gordon West arrived too late with a truckload of sandbags at his building on South I Street in Aberdeen. Water was already a foot deep in and around the building.
“If I ran the pump now I would just be pumping water in a circle,” he said Monday.
Highways 101, 12 and 107 were closed in the Hoquiam-Aberdeen area, the WSDOT said. Highway 109 in Moclips was closed after the Moclips River overflowed its banks.
Monday morning, police urged residents to leave their homes along an eight-block stretch at the base of Hoquiam’s Beacon Hill for fear the entire bluff give could way, Police Chief Jeff Meyers said. About 60 nursing-home residents were evacuated as a precaution.
The American Red Cross, in coordination with the Hoquiam Fire Department, opened an emergency shelter at Immanuel Baptist Church for those affected by flooding or landslides.
Meanwhile, a dozen inmates of a juvenile-detention facility on the banks of the Chehalis River in Aberdeen were temporarily moved to the county jail as a precaution, Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott said. They were returned to the juvenile facility Monday afternoon.
Extreme rainfall on the Quinault Reservation caused numerous landslides, culvert failures and washouts, and tribal members who live close to the river were evacuated late Sunday night.
The Highway 109 bridge over the Moclips River near Quinault Village was washed out, which tribal President Fawn Sharp called a major problem for the tribe.
“The Moclips River flooding is the worst I’ve seen it,” Sharp said in a news release. “If it is as bad as it looks, Highway 109 would take days to repair. And if our own Moclips Highway needs major repairs we will have significant commuter problems.”
The Quinault property-management division ordered an emergency inspection of all the tribe’s buildings and infrastructure.
Rail line blocked
Two mudslides, one north of White Rock, outside Vancouver, B.C., and a second south of Everett, blocked BNSF Railway tracks Monday, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said. After a review by an BNSF engineering team, passenger-train operations between Seattle and Vancouver were suspended until 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.
Officials were also monitoring trains because of water on the main line at Centralia.
“They’re operating trains, but at slow speeds, because of high water,” Melonas said.
Slide risks continue
Because of increased soil saturation, a gradually diminishing risk of landslides will continue through the week, according to the weather service. Steep hillsides and steep coastal bluffs are most susceptible, the weather service said.
An avalanche warning was issued for the western slopes of the Cascades on Sunday and Monday after rain fell on heavy snow, creating unstable snowpack conditions, said Smith, the meteorologist.
The forecast for the rest of the week is much drier, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
Wednesday will be the nicest day, with highs in the lower 50s and lows in the lower 40s, Smith said.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report. Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or email@example.com