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Foot of rain forecast for Mount Rainier, wet Halloween at lower levels

The rain has everyone at the ready.

Forecasters on Friday were expecting more than a foot of rain in the mountains this weekend, followed by a foot of snow, and possible flooding on several local rivers.

City and county crews cleared storm drains, prepared equipment in case of floods and coordinated with Pierce County Emergency Management.

A rainstorm accompanied by 45-miles-per-hour gusts blew through Friday, but another, stronger storm was expected to be not far behind.

“We’re at the starting line,” county operations manager Tony Fantello said.

The first storm caused a loss of power for 4,800 Puget Sound Energy customers, many on the Key Peninsula.

The National Weather Service issued a windy advisory and flood watch for Pierce, King, Thurston and other counties and warned that most damage would happen at higher elevations.

Mount Rainier could be one of the hardest hit areas, with a foot of rain possible in the 5,400-foot Paradise area by late Saturday and then a foot of snow expected by Sunday night.

By Friday afternoon, 3.22 inches of rain had fallen at Paradise in the previous 24 hours.

Park officials said they are concerned mostly with flooding on Tahoma, Kautz and Van Trump creeks, as well as the Nisqually River.

The park is closing Westside Road, Sunrise and White River Campground roads where they meet state Route 410, the Carbon River Trail and Mowich Lake Road beyond the Paul Peak vehicle barricade. Without a solid layer of snow on the glaciers, the rain is more likely to wash loose rocks and other debris. In mid-August, a glacial outburst sent debris tumbling four miles down Tahoma Creek, forcing a closure of the road and Tahoma Creek Trail.

“The major concern I have is that this is a perfect storm to generate debris flows — no seasonal snowpack, low snow park-wide, intense rain, high freezing levels and high winds,” said park geologist Scott Beason.

The snow level on the mountain was expected to drop to 4,000 feet by Sunday, according to the Weather Service.

Trick-or-treating down low likely will be soggy with up to 2 inches possible Saturday in Tacoma. Winds are forecast to be 22 mph.

A flood watch will remain in effect through Sunday.

Officials were working to ensure Tacoma’s historic Stadium Bowl doesn’t further flood. A storm earlier this month eroded a stairwell leading to the stadium, saturated the artificial turf and flooded a field house where the football team stored equipment.

Tacoma Public Schools will use sandbags to divert water from the embankment and prevent more damage, district spokeswoman Elle Warmuth said.

County operations crews that monitor 70 miles of levee were paying close attention to the Puyallup, Carbon and Nisqually rivers.

“All the forecasts show this to be a serious, strong event and probable flood event,” Fantello said. “It looks to be equivalent to our floods of 2008 and 2009.”

Floods then damaged levees on the three rivers. The White River is controlled by Mud Mountain Dam and isn’t subject to as many problems during storms.

Fantello said the areas most likely to be affected are Sumner, Orting, South Prairie and the upper Nisqually.

Cliff Mass, a University of Washington meteorologist, wrote in his blog that the rain totals predicted for the weekend are “impressive and scary.”

“It is now clear that we are going to have one of the wettest periods in a while,” he wrote.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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