Wet forecast for Washington; avalanche danger closes North Cascades Highway
More Pacific storms that started rolling across the Northwest in waves over the weekend are on their way, according to the National Weather Service.
“Not a dry day for a while,” said meteorologist Johnny Burg at the agency's Seattle office.
Up to 5 inches of rain could fall in the next couple of days in the mountains below snow level and more than 2 inches in the Western Washington lowlands, heaviest on the coast, Burg said.
Heavy rain greeted Monday morning commuters in Seattle and Tacoma as they splashed through deep puddles in the streets. Portions of Interstate 5 lanes and ramps in the Seattle area were closed by water over the roadway.
On Highway 101 near the coast a mudslide carried a tree into a Washington State Patrol car that had stopped at the scene. Then another car hit the patrol car, Trooper Russ Winger said.
The trooper is not injured, and the driver of the other car is OK.
The mudslide blocked the highway near Naselle in Pacific County — one of several mudslides in the area following heavy rain.
Rains already have pushed the Skokomish River in Mason County to flood stage and there's a warning for flooding on the Chehalis, Satsap, Newaukum and Willapa rivers in southwest Washington. Some streams also may overflow, but no major flooding is expected. More than 3 inches of rain was recorded at Montesano in the 24 hours ending at 9 a.m. Monday.
The Washington Transportation Department said it was closing the North Cascades Highway at noon Monday because of avalanche danger from quickly deepening snow.
Forecasters expect 9 to 30 inches of snow in the Olympics and Cascades, mostly above 4,000 feet. Changing periods of rains, snow or freezing rain will likely make driving a challenge through the Cascade highway passes, Burg said.
The snow level drops to 3,000 feet Wednesday, which would put snow on Interstate 90 at 3,000-foot Snoqualmie Pass and Highway 2 at 4,000-foot Stevens Pass.
“For people driving over the passes on Wednesday, they could be driving through some snow,” Burg said. By Thursday night the snow level is expected to rise back up to 5,500 feet. “The trip back might not be as bad,” he said.
The Pacific storms are rolling across Eastern Washington with the same mix of mountain snow and valley rains with a chance of minor flooding. High winds were added for Monday in parts of Eastern Washington.
There could be a break between storms for Thanksgiving Day.
“Somewhat of a lull,” said Burg. “There might be just a little bit of rain on Thursday as compared to a lot.”
Stormy weather has already caused small power outages in some areas. About 2,800 customers in the north Seattle suburb of Lake Forest Park lost power Sunday evening when a tree fell into power lines.
Continuing rain brings the danger of more landslides, particularly in areas partial to mudslides, such as the railroad tracks along Puget Sound near Mukilteo.
Other November storms have brought more flooding and wind damage. With temperatures mostly in the 40s and 50s, there's no threat of widespread snow in urban areas. November's steady rain is Washington's climate.
“This is typical for this time of year,” Burg said. “This is usually when we see windstorms, rain, river flooding and mountain snow. We've been lucky so far we haven't seen a big wind. The winter is young.”
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