A river of rain, snow in the mountains, flooding, wind and dangerous beach conditions.
Is this a setup for a new disaster movie or simply another winter day in Western Washington?
In a series of tweets, the National Weather Service (NWS) of Seattle warned Tuesday’s forecast “(had) it all.”
A river of rain, or stream of atmospheric moisture, is a long, narrow region in the atmosphere — like a river in the sky — that transports most of the water vapor outside of the tropics, according to an explanation posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow,” NOAA said in a post on the phenomenon.
The main concerns with another round of heavy rain in and around Seattle, where the ground is already saturated, were landslides, mudslides and urban flooding, NWS Seattle meteorologist Courtney Carpenter said Tuesday morning.
“We just had a lot of rain the last couple days, and the ground’s really saturated,” said Johnny Burg, a NWS meteorologist in Seattle. By Tuesday evening, he said, areas in Kitsap County had seen the most landslide activity, though no new flooding.
“Some rivers were just still flooding from the last storm system,” Burg said.”
Southerly winds picked up during the day as the system moved inland, with gusty winds around 60 mph hitting the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands, Burg said.
Dangerous beach conditions were also forecast Tuesday night along the coast with waves of up to 15 to 20 feet, prompting a high surf advisory in parts of Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties, Burg said.
At least eight roads were closed in King County on Tuesday morning because of water over the roadway or landslides. A landslide forced a road closure in Poulsbo around 6 a.m., and eight waterfront homes along Hood Canal near Poulsbo were evacuated because of a fire and a landslide that has destabilized the hillside and pushed trees into at least one home Monday, emergency officials said.
Two ferry sailings — 6:30 a.m. from Port Townsend and 7:15 a.m. from Coupeville — were canceled because of “high winds and rough seas.” Sounder’s north-line service was canceled through Wednesday because of a mudslide and is expected to resume Thursday.
Wednesday will also likely be cloudy with afternoon showers, Burg said, but nothing compared with Tuesday.
“Tomorrow should be a calmer day,” he said Tuesday night.
Carpenter said Thursday looks like it will be the only possibly dry day this week with a few more weather systems lined up for Friday and into the weekend, although none of those appear to be as heavy as the ones we had this past weekend.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.