Heavy rain causing Western Washington flooding concerns

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 31, 2011 at 6:22 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 31 at 1:48 PM

SEATTLE -- Two days of heavy rains and warm temperatures in the Cascades have caused  Western Washington rivers to rise and fields and lowlands to flood, but the rain is expected to let up.

"We're going to see one last round of heavy rain this morning, but we're already seeing the switch to off-on showers, which will stay with us through this afternoon," said KING 5 Meterologist Rich Marriott. "We might even see a few sunbreaks this afternoon."

Almost six to eight inches of rain has fallen the past 24 hours in the Cascade mountains, said Marriott.  Meanwhile, the Olympic mountains are creating a rain shadow over the central Puget Sound region, so the Seattle area only received about 4/100 of an inch of rain in comparison.

Much of the flooding is expected on rivers flowing off the central Cascade mountains.

"Seeing that rain fall up in the mountains, it will take a while for all the rain to move on down the rivers," said Marriott. "We'll see most of those (rivers) cresting later today or early tomorrow morning"

Flood warnings are in effect for the following rivers: Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Tolt, Puyallup, Snohomish, Green, Stillaguamish and the North Fork at the Stillaguamish. Flood watches are in effect for rivers in nearly all of the counties in Western Washington through Friday.

The Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers through Carnation were already spilling over Thursday morning. Several roads and some properties were flooded, and King County has already closed eight area roads due to flooding.

In Eastern Washington, forecasters are warning of flooding on the Palouse River at Palouse. The Weather Service also expects strong winds of 25 mph to 35 mph from Wenatchee through Moses Lake to Spokane. Gusts could hit 50 mph.

On Friday, the rain is likely to change to showers later in the day. Showers are likely over the weekend, but with cooler temperatures snow is more likely in the mountains.

Avalanche closes Highway 2 at Stevens Pass

Meanwhile, heavy rain and wind in the mountains has caused several avalanches on Highway 2, closing all lanes in both directions at Stevens Pass.  An avalanche warning remains in effect for the Cascade and Olympic Mountains through Thursday.

WSDOT said by midday avalanche crews were pulled from the sites because conditions had become too dangerous. Highway 2 will remain closed through Thursday night; WSDOT do not know when it will reopen.
  
The department said the slide hit about 5 a.m., and spokesman Jeff Adamson said the snow was about 15 feet deep. Several more avalanches were discovered in the area later in the morning.

The Mount Baker ski area remains closed until Friday morning when the avalanche danger is expected to decrease.

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