Not much letup expected in this wet start to March

Staff writerMarch 7, 2014 

A city crew cleans up a mudslide Thursday on Marine View Drive in northeast Tacoma. The road was closed for hours while the mudslide was cleared.

PETER HALEY/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The past five days have been the wettest start to March on record, but Friday might bring a brief sun break before rain returns to pound the region through the middle of next week.

March normally sees 3.72 inches at Sea-Tac Airport. That was surpassed about 4 a.m. Thursday when the gauge registered 3.73 inches. Later Thursday, the rainfall total reached 3.85 inches.

Although no daily records have been broken this week, the National Weather Service in Seattle said Wednesday was the seventh-wettest March day when 1.84 inches fell.

Heavy rain meant rising rivers and minor mud slides.

Marine View Drive in Tacoma remained closed Thursday as city crews worked to clear several slides that dumped debris onto the road.

Flood warnings were issued through Friday on the Puyallup River near Orting, the Snoqualmie River near Carnation and the Cowlitz River at Randle.

Rivers begin to spill over their banks when they reach flood stage at 4,500 cubic feet per second. The Puyallup River was expected to crest Thursday night and recede by Friday morning.

“With as much rain as has fallen, there’s usually a several-hour delay from the foothills of Mount Rainier to when we see it in the valley area,” said Tony Fantello, operations manager for Pierce County who oversees the river levees.

The affected areas include Neadham Road, Orville Road East in areas south of Brooks Road East and north of Electron Road and in the Tomolla Tree Farm area.

Fantello said his crew will work a split shift so they could continue monitoring the upper Puyallup River through the night.

In the mountains, forecasters issued a winter weather advisory for about 4,000 feet, warning of hazardous driving conditions.

The Weather Service said 5 to 10 inches of powder could fall at higher elevations. Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park was anticipating up to 4 inches overnight Thursday.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com

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