Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rainfall and floods of epic proportions crippling the Pacific Northwest

It's hard to imagine that almost a year after the massive Hanukkah Eve Windstorm, we'd be experiencing a weather sequel of equally epic proportions, but that's just what has been happening over the last forty eight hours.

Massive flooding has hit cities throughout Puget Sound, including Seattle, threatening homes and businesses.

Many roadways throughout the region are washed out, including Interstate 5, which is completely closed in the Chehalis area because it is under water. Flooding has stranded Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains and caused the cancellation of Amtrak Cascades service along the entire corridor.

Mudslides are also blocking train tracks in many places. Slides between Seattle and Everett have knocked out Sounder runs to Snohomish County. Highway 2 is also closed near Stevens Pass because of avalanche danger.

High winds have cut power to many citizens on the coast and damaged power lines, causing outages in rural areas. Nearly six billion gallons of rain have fallen in recent hours and more precipitation is in the forecast for tonight. Rivers throughout Western Washington are swollen at record high levels.

Two have died in Grays Harbor County as a result of the storm.

The floods trapped or cut off some hikers and homeowners who had to be rescued by helicopter. The effects of the storm prompted Governor Christine Gregoire to declare a state of emergency, allowing the Washington National Guard to be mobilized for response and recovery efforts.

To the south, things aren't any better in Oregon:
The damage was similar throughout Oregon, where Gov. Ted Kulongoski also declared a state of emergency as residents there dealt with flooding, power outages, landslides and blocked highways. Abby Kershaw of Oregon Emergency Management said communications are so bad it is not certain how many people have been evacuated.
The enormous volume of water is causing huge problems, most notably in the state's largest city, which is denser and more developed:
In Seattle, where rescue crews were forced to carry people from hard-hit homes in the Northgate area and then shelter them on Metro buses, Mayor Greg Nickels said flatly that the city's infrastructure had been unable to cope with the deluge.

"The systems that this city was built around -- the draining systems, the transportation systems -- simply were not built to handle this kind of rainfall," he said.
Measurements at SeaTac show that today was the second wettest day on record... ever, which is pretty amazing. Before venturing out be sure to check the latest road closure information, and be aware that many schools, churches, and businesses are shut down because of the flooding, including Nathan Hale High in Seattle and Northshore District headquarters in Bothell.


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