Thursday weather updates: Traffic alerts, power outages, weather forecast, mudslide danger, school closures and more.
State transportation crews reopened tw0 northbound lanes of Interstate 5 in Cowlitz County Thursday evening, helping relieve the major delays and heavy congestion that spanned miles since a landslide closed the roadway Wednesday.
The state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in a news release said crews will continue to clear all of the debris, which included several large trees and rocks, and they hope to reopen all lanes by Sunday evening.
Gov. Jay Inslee earlier in the day presided over the construction work near Woodland, which straddles Clark and Cowlitz counties. The governor said on Twitter the crews were doing “complex work” to stabilize the interstate, and he thanked all workers who were working to clear roads and restore power following this week’s storms.
Also, shortly before noon, WSDOT crews in Chelan County reopened a section of Highway 2 that had been closed Wednesday by a slide in Tumwater Canyon west of Leavenworth.
The chance of more mudslides around Western Washington persists with rain expected through the weekend. But the chance of additional major river flooding has decreased with colder weather lowering freezing levels in the Cascades and Olympics.
Though many rivers remain at or above flood stage, and continue to damage streets, homes and businesses, levels have been dropping on most Western Washington rivers.
Thursday morning, a tornado tore through an area of Battle Ground, Clark County, damaging 36 homes and two businesses, according to the National Weather Service and a city of Battleground news release. By evening, emergency responders were working to assess the damage and clear debris. No injuries were reported.
About one tornado a year is seen in that area that takes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.
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Inslee declared a state of emergency Wednesday due to the widespread flooding.
On the Washington coast, waves up to about 30 feet high washed over levees Thursday and into some communities, including Westport and Aberdeen, both in Grays Harbor County. The area is under a flood warning until 4 a.m. Friday.
In a word: Wet. Showers in the Puget Sound area are expected to continue on and off Thursday, with a 50 percent chance of rain Friday and the likelihood of heavy rain returning Saturday, when the Seattle area could get another half-inch. Daytime highs in the Puget Sound area are forecast in the upper 40s, with lows of about 40.
The good news for skiers and those coping with Wednesday’s flooding is that the freezing level has dropped, and most of the precipitation in the passes is falling as snow, rather than washing into the rivers.
A winter weather advisory lasts until midnight Thursday for the North Cascades and Olympics, predicting a between 5 to 12 inches of snow, with totals of between 10 and 17 inches forecast on Mount Baker.
Issaquah-Robart Road Southeast: Closed between Tiger Mountain Road Southeast and Southeast Mirrormont Boulevard.
Highway 12 in Yakima County: White Pass is closed to through traffic in both directions. The eastbound closure is at milepost 138, near the junction of Highway 123 and Highway 12; the westbound closure is at milepost 165 near Wildcat Creek. WSDOT is warning people to plan on an extended closure, because part of the eastbound lane was washed away. Also: Water on the roadway has forced a closure on the same highway in both directions from milepost 39.8 near Moon Road Southwest to milepost 37.6 near Elma Gate Road.
Highway 131 southbound: The southbound road at milepost 0.5 near Siler Creek to Hampton Road is closed due to water on the roadway. State officials urge drivers near milepost 1.7 near the Cowlitz River to take caution for the same reason.
Stay tuned to WSDOT’s website for updates.
A new blast of wind early Thursday challenged utilities’ attempts to restore power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses — and more outages are predicted.
Since 3 a.m. Wednesday, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) reported storms shut off power to roughly 129,000 customers, the majority in King and Pierce counties. Just after 8:15 p.m. Thursday, 3,425 customers remained in the dark.
PSE crews will work into the night to get power restored, spokeswoman Akiko Oda said. And with the upcoming forecast — which includes a chance for heavy rain Saturday — they’re preparing for the work to continue, she said.
“A series of storms is creating problems,” a PSE facebook post reads. “We are prepared for the possibility [that] those conditions could cause more trees and branches to crash into our power lines and power poles, creating additional power outages.”
The utility said ground saturated by days of heavy rain is bringing down an unusual number of whole trees, threatening power lines. Consult the Puget Sound Energy power outage map for current info.
A slide up to 10 feet deep and 70 feet wide on Wednesday blocked Highway 2 in both directions in Tumwater Canyon west of Leavenworth. The road reopened Thursday.
A mudslide in Burien on Tuesday night destroyed one home, damaged another, pushed one car into Puget Sound and led to the evacuation of five additional homes, according to officials. There were no reported injuries from the slide that occurred near Standring Lane Southwest; however, officials urged people to avoid the area until the ground is stabilized. They also said residents of nearby homes have been informed of the situation.
In Cowlitz County, a series of mudslides caused major problems for residents who live along the Kalama River Road, according to Randy Gibson, Kalama’s police chief. On Tuesday, one person was injured and a house along the road was damaged by the slide, according to an official with Cowlitz County Emergency Operations Center. The road was closed to traffic on Wednesday morning.
SCHOOL SCHEDULES THURSDAY
Renton School District: Hazen High, Sierra Heights and Honey Dew Elementary are closed for lack of power.
White Pass schools are closed.
Issaquah School District: Pacific Cascade Middle School and Pine Lake Middle School are delayed two hours.
Snoqualmie Valley schools are closed.
The Riverview School District is starting two hours late. Morning Kindergarten and preschool are canceled.
The Oakville School District in Grays Harbor County has canceled school.
Sound Transit said Northline Sounder service between Seattle and Everett will open Friday after it stayed closed earlier this week after.
Amtrak announced Thursday morning that passenger rail service has been restored in the Pacific Northwest. Tracks were closed north of Portland and north of Seattle earlier this week.