Moderate to heavy rain continued to fall in Western Washington on Wednesday, slowing efforts to reopen one of two mountain passes that remain closed.
Though flood watches and warnings remain in effect through Thursday, in many areas the danger of extreme flooding was downgraded. Landslide risks from the saturated ground, however, remained elevated with some closures reported early Wednesday.
In Issaquah, a landslide at Northwest Oakcrest Drive has closed Newport Way Northwest from Lakemont Boulevard Southeast to Highway 900.
By Thursday, the wet weather system will have headed north, and most flood risk will have dissipated, according to the weather service. The Seattle area could then see three days of dry weather on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
A rock slide that’s left a large boulder perched precipitously over the roadway has closed White Pass while geotechnical engineers try to figure out the best way to deal with it. The road cannot be reopened, according to WSDOT, until the boulder is removed.
White Pass will remain closed until at least Thursday, according to the agency, while a specialist contractor works to remove a large boulder and slides are stabilized.
Stevens Pass remains closed due to avalanche danger that was exacerbated by this week’s heavy rains, according to WSDOT. The department said it will reopen Stevens Pass and Tumwater Canyon around 10 a.m. Thursday.
So far this month, 6.27 inches of rain have been recorded at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.
That’s more than the typical monthly total of 5.78 inches and that makes this month wetter than 60% of the Januaries in the 78 years of SeaTac records.
Because snow levels were high and the heaviest rains from this week’s round of wet weather were expected in the Cascade and Olympic mountains, the weather service had issued flood warnings and watches in counties with rivers fed by mountain runoff.
In a flood statement on Monday, NWS Seattle said rivers in Mason, Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam counties that flow out of the Olympics could begin flooding Tuesday.
The possibility of flooding was expected to be higher on Wednesday for rivers in King, Snohomish, Whatcom and Skagit counties, which are fed by the Cascades.
Although some watches and warnings remain in effect through Thursday, the risk at many has been downgraded by local agencies to moderate or marginal.
The King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks said, for example, that flood alerts remain in effect for the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers with “moderate flooding” and “possible road closures.”