With floods imminent, evacuations were ordered in Washington

By Michelle Watson, Haley Brink and Allison Chincher | CNN

Record rain and snow will create flooding, potential landslides and higher avalanche risks in western Washington state, and more falls are forecast over the weekend.

Residents living in the Skokomish Valley area of ​​Mason County are under evacuation orders due to rising water and “imminent flooding,” the county said in a news release.

The alert issued on Thursday asked people to “immediately evacuate the area or be prepared for shelter for at least 72 hours.”

More roads are expected to be closed on Friday, the release said.

The mayor of Leavenworth in central Washington state declared disaster on Friday after record-breaking snowfall the day before, when the city froze 36 inches of snow in less than 24 hours.

“Some microclimate pockets have now received up to 48 inches of snow in the past 48 hours, raising concerns for life safety and structure stability in the community,” a news release from the city said.

The city will also seek help from the National Guard for civil welfare checks, food distribution, general snow cleaning and private driveway snow removal, the release said.

Road closed for some time due to rising water

Trooper Will Finn with the Washington State Patrol told CNN in a phone call that 20 miles of Interstate 5 was closed in both directions due to rising waters from the Chehalis River. The state transport department later announced that crews were working to reopen that section of the road as flood waters receded.

It is a primary Interstate from the south into Seattle.

Earlier, a video from CNN-affiliated KPTV showed a rescue boat coming to the aid of stranded people and standing on top of a vehicle on the side of the road.

The Chehalis River gauge near Ground Mound is projected to have a crest of more than 145 feet on Saturday morning, which is in major flood stage and will be the second highest peak ever. The highest on record is 147.26 feet on December 4, 2007. The river is not expected to be below the flood level till Monday morning.

Another gauge near I-5 and just before merging with the Chehalis River on the Skookumchuk River is projected to reach major flooding at 192.58 feet, a level never reached before. Not only does this flood I-5 but at the NWS level it says “the river will flood most residential areas and roads and cover most of the farmland in the Skookumchuk River Valley.”

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Seattle, several cities in Washington broke rain records on Thursday, raising the potential for flooding.

A flood warning is in place for the Skokomish River in Potlach until Saturday evening.

“The river is at a height of about 17.8 feet this morning. The river will begin to recede slowly this afternoon but will not fall below flood stage until Saturday afternoon,” the NWS office in Seattle said.

Above 17.5 feet, flood effects for the region included “moderate flooding, with some residential areas, many roads and much of the agricultural land in the Skokomish Valley with deep and rapid floodwaters.”

Too much snow and rain leading to potential avalanches and landslides

The West has seen hardly any break in the past several weeks after record-breaking rain and snow from Washington to California. The cumulative effect of all that rain and snow will increase the risk of flooding and avalanches in the river.

Rain and snow are helpful in easing drought conditions, but not when it is severe in a short period of time.

Over the past several weeks, heavy rains have saturated soil across much of western Washington. A total of 1 to 3 inches of rain is expected till Friday. Along with the snowfall for the last several days, this rain will further worsen the ongoing flood situation in the entire region. This will increase the risk of landslides below 3,000 feet on Friday.

“Some landslides have been reported over the past few days in western Washington and more landslides are possible,” the NWS said.

NWS Office in Portland, Oregon, “Overall, this rain, combined with snow from the Coastal Mountains and, to a lesser extent, the lower slopes of the Cascades, will push many rivers upstream, some potentially approaching flood stage.” Will go.” said.

The Northwest Avalanche Center in Seattle is warning that there will be large natural avalanches at all heights of the Cascades, below the Canadian border and including on the I-90 corridor. The center recommends against back-country travel.