Despite 3 inches of rain, Pierce County rivers stay within banks

Staff writerFebruary 18, 2014 

Rain CLO

Not many people braved the driving rain on as the last day of the Presidents Day weekend ended with a deluge Monday, but at least these two took a wet stroll on the Esplanade along Dock Street. More rain is expected Tuesday.

DEAN J. KOEPFLER — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Areas of Tacoma and Pierce County received around three inches of rain from a series of showers Sunday night through Monday afternoon, but local rivers stayed inside their banks, and there were no official reports of significant urban flooding.

Meantime, Presidents Day weekend travelers faced adventurous conditions.

The storms from Sunday and Monday dropped more than 28 inches of snow in the Cascade Mountains. The Washington State Patrol closed eastbound Interstate 90 midday Monday to remove spun-out vehicles and to wait for conditions to improve. The freeway was reopened by early Monday evening.

Landslides on BNSF tracks halted Amtrak service between Tacoma and Olympia as well as between Seattle and Everett. The tracks were cleared Monday and the line was reopened to freight traffic, but BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said passenger service would not run until at least Wednesday morning as a safety precaution.

The State Patrol was watching a slow-moving mudslide on state Route 509 north of Tacoma Monday night. Mud and rocks had slumped onto the shoulder of the road near Dash Point. The road was open, but troopers were waiting for a state Department of Transportation official to decide whether to close the road.

Small hail fell in some areas of Pierce County on Monday, and Buckley residents may have heard thunderclaps, said Josh Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Pierce County rivers including the Puyallup, Carbon and Nisqually were not flowing near flood stage. But farther south, Thurston County Emergency Management told residents via its Facebook page, “Minor flooding is expected, so residents in flood prone areas should take steps to protect life and property.”

Some areas in Thurston County were under a flood watch or flood warning from the National Weather Service. The Northwest River Forecast Center predicted the Chehalis River near Grand Mound would crest above flood stage by Tuesday afternoon, while the Deschutes, Skookumchuck and Newakum rivers were receding from flood stage as of Monday.

On Tuesday in Tacoma and western Pierce County, temperatures could be in the upper 40s, Smith said, with southerly winds in the 15-25 mph range. A steady rain could continue throughout the day, he said.

Earlier this year, the Cascades had seen so little snow that the region faced a drought, Smith said. That’s no longer the case. The western slope of the Cascade Range from Canada to the Oregon border will remain under a winter storm warning through 6 a.m. Wednesday. More snow could fall in the mountains throughout the week, Smith said.

“Our snowpack, if it’s not at normal already, it’s getting closer to normal,” he said. “Now we’ve increased our snowpack quite a bit since the beginning of February.”

Crystal Mountain Resort was closed Monday because of a power failure. It reported 10 inches of fresh snow fell during day. The ski area said it planned to reopen Tuesday.

“Go ahead and call in sick!” it said on its website. “Don’t forget a ski partner and a snorkel.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542
kate.martin@thenewstribune.com
@KateReports

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