Storm brings flooding to lowlands, heavy snow to mountains


by KING 5 News

Posted on November 22, 2011 at 7:45 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 6:39 PM

SEATTLE -- A fall storm drenched Washington state, knocking out power to thousands and triggering flood watches along some rivers.

Another strong storm will like bring more high winds Thursday to parts of Western Washington. Forecasters say the coast and northwest interior could have 30 mph winds with gusts to 60.

Travel will be impacted Thanksgiving Day through Friday morning in the Cascade passes. Another shot of snow could leave 8-to-12 inches by Friday morning.

Flood warnings are in effect through Wednesday night Lewis, Mason, Pierce and Thurston counties, and a winter storm warning was issued for the north Cascades until 10 a.m. Wednesday for up to a foot of new snow. Latest flood conditions

About 1-3 inches of rain has fallen in the lowlands since Monday night, causing some urban flooding due to drains clogged with leaves. Marriott says the storm will stay in Western Washington through Wednesday morning, moving more south.

"Our Futurecast models indicate that overall the heaviest rainfall will be from about Tacoma southward where 3-5 inches could fall between Tuesday and Wednesday morning," said KING 5 Meteorologist Marriott. "North of Tacoma will still be wet with anywhere from 2-4 inches of rain." Get the latest forecast

The Olympic Peninsula could see as much of 10 inches of rain, which could lead to some river flooding. Flood Warnings are in effect for the Skokomish, Newaukum, Chehalis, Puyallup and Deschutes rivers; minor to moderate flooding is expected on those rivers.

Overnight Monday and early Tuesday, wind gusts up to 40-50 mph knocked down power lines overnight, causing scattered outages around the Puget Sound area. The strongest wind gusts were reported north of Everett, where gusts reached 60 mph in Bellingham. Get the latest updates on power outages and road closures.

Lots of new snow has fallen the past 24 hours in the mountains: 18 inches at Mount Baker, 14 inches at Crystal Mountain and 11 inches at Snoqualmie and Stevens passes.

Westbound traffic on I-90 was closed through Snoqualmie Pass at milepost 71 at Easton due to heavy snow and accidents; chains were required eastbound for all vehicles without 4-wheel drive. Traction tires are required at Stevens, Blewett and White passes.

Snow levels rose to about 3,000-3,500 feet Tuesday morning and will climb to around 5,000 feet in the afternoon as temperatures warm up and snow transitions to rain.

"The rain and heavy wet snow may overload the weak snowpack around the Northwest, increasing the avalanche danger," said Marriott.  "As a result, there is an avalanche danger warning for the west slopes of the Cascades and for the Olympics a high avalanche danger above 4,000 feet."

Avalanche control work will likely be necessary, so prepare for possible pass closures. I-90 was closed in both directions at various times on Tuesday due to weather conditions and vehicle spinouts. Check traffic

Forecasters expect rain, showers and mountain snow to continue across the state through Thanksgiving and the weekend. 

"If you're headed across the passes, your best time weather wise will probably be between 3 p.m. Wednesday through 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day," said Marriott.

More rain and windy weather moves in Thanksgiving day and could be as strong as what we saw early Tuesday.  More weaker storms move in Friday and Saturday, though another strong storm could begin moving in Saturday night.

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