WARNING: ‘Bouts Of Heavy Rain,’ Mean Flood Watch Issued For This Weekend


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On Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010, Miller Creek flooded and closed Shorebrook Drive near The Cove in Normandy Park. Part of the overflow rushed through the front yard of this house. Photo by Scott Schaefer.

Both the National Weather Service and King County have issued “Flood Watch” warnings for this weekend, as “bouts of heavy rain and warm temperatures could send water over roadways” through Sunday afternoon, Jan. 16th.

“A series of warm and wet weather systems will give periods of locally heavy rain,” reads the NWS warning. “These systems are fast moving… but each one will be tapped into sub-tropical moisture originating from the central Pacific. Each system will likely produce 1 to 3 inch rainfall amounts in the mountains. Freezing levels will also rise to around 8000 feet today and to around 9000 feet by Sunday.”

As you may recall, the last time we had any similar flood warnings was the weekend of Dec. 11-12th, when the Burien area was hit hard by a torrential deluge courtesy the same “Pineapple Express,” causing flooding of area creeks as well as a mudslide near Three Tree Point (read our previous coverage and see photos of that here).

Here’s the Weather Whizzes’ latest warning, issued at 5:56am Friday, Jan. 14th:

… Flood Watch remains in effect from 10 am PST this morning through Sunday afternoon…

The Flood Watch continues for

  • portions of western Washington… including the following counties… Grays Harbor… Clallam… Jefferson… Skagit… Whatcom… King… Lewis… Mason… Pierce… Snohomish… Thurston.
  • a series of warm and wet weather systems will give periods of locally heavy rain. These systems are fast moving… but each one will be tapped into sub-tropical moisture originating from the central Pacific. Each system will likely produce 1 to 3 inch rainfall amounts in the mountains. Freezing levels will also rise to around 8000 feet today and to around 9000 feet by Sunday.
  • All rivers are expected to see rises starting today. The first river that will see the potential for flooding will be the Skokomish River in Mason County this afternoon. Portions of the lower Snohomish and lower Chehalis river basins could also approach flood stage late today or tonight. After a lull in the heavier rains tonight and the first part of Saturday… another wetter system if forecast to move onshore late Saturday and Saturday night. With the added rains from this system… more rivers may approach flood stage Sunday and into Monday. Since the systems will be accompanied by breaks in the precipitation… it appears that most flooding… if it occurs… will be minor.

Precautionary/preparedness actions…

A Flood Watch means conditions are favorable for flooding but flooding is not imminent or occurring. Monitor the latest forecasts from the National Weather Service and be ready to act quickly if flooding is observed or a warning is issued.

And here’s King County’s warning:

Bouts of heavy rain and warm temperatures could send water over roadways

With one wet weather system after the other projected to move through the area over the next few days, the King County Road Services Division is advising motorists to be on the lookout for a variety of road-related problems.

The National Weather Service is advising the public that rain combined with warm temperatures will cause some rivers to rise in Western Washington, which could impact roads in lowland areas. Given ground saturation, motorists should also watch for water runoff and debris on local roads, especially in areas prone to landslides.

Minor flooding on the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers has already prompted two road closures near Carnation – West Snoqualmie River Road NE. between NE. 24th St. and NE. Tolt Hill Road and SE. 24th St. at 309th Ave. SE. If continued rain causes rivers to rise further, road crews will begin patrolling roads in low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable to flooding.

Residents are reminded that it can take a couple of days or more for water to recede from flooded roads before they can be inspected for damage and safely reopened. So motorists should identify alternative travel routes to reach their destination if they plan on traveling in flood-prone areas over the next few days.

Motorists are also reminded never to driver around road closure signs or through deep standing water. Driving through flood water can cause your vehicle to stall or make you lose control, which can have life-threatening consequences.

Homeowners can help reduce the impact of heavy rain by making sure storm drains around their property are free of debris and are draining properly.

Residents who spot problems on roads maintained by King County should report them by calling the Road Services Division’s 24-hour help line at (206) 296-8100 or 1-800 KC ROADS. You can also sign up for King County Road Alerts online.

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