Some Pierce County rivers flood as heavy rain continues

As heavy rain pelted Western Washington on Tuesday, officials kept a close eye on several rivers after at least two flooded, and Mount Rainier National Park was closed to all visitors due to flooded roads and dangerous conditions throughout the park.

Pierce County officials recommended that residents of the Neadham Road area near Orting evacuate in anticipation of high water on the upper Puyallup River.

The Puyallup experienced major flooding after reaching a flood flow of 16,300 cubic feet per second shortly after 1 p.m.

The National Weather Service warned of “major flooding” from Orting through McMillan to Sumner when the river reached 16,000 cfs. Flooding also was expected on streams and tributaries near the Puyallup River Basin.

“Swift and deep flood waters will inundate roads, residential areas and farms,” the warning said. “Erosion will likely damage levees.”

County crews were monitoring the situation, said Tony Fantello, the county’s operations manager who oversees 70 miles of levee.

“There’s not only a river event going on, but it’s falling heavy in the urban areas as well,” he said.

Road crews were dealing with at least 29 sites of water over the roadway and two with fallen trees blocking the roadway in central Pierce County, said Sheri Badger, spokeswoman for Pierce County Emergency Management.

South Prairie Carbon River Road in South Prairie was closed about 100 yards north of 157th Street East because of flooding over both lanes of the roadway, she said.

Public Works and Utilities had five 2-person crews monitoring flooded areas and available to respond to new problems, Badger said.

The county also opened its Emergency Operations Center to help areas that might need help after flooding. Crews brought sand bags out to South Prairie.

Forecasters were predicting 2½ to 5 inches of rain would fall in the Cascades by Wednesday with another 3 to 5 inches possible when another storm moves through Wednesday to Friday.

The Nisqually River saw moderate flooding Tuesday and remained under a flood warning. The stream gauge near the park showed the river flow jumped from 925 cfs Monday to 11,500 cfs on Tuesday.

Flooding near Kautz Creek forced Mount Rainier National Park to close the Nisqually entrance in the southwest corner of the park Tuesday. Park staff members and guests at Longmire’s National Park Inn were moved.

The section of road between the Nisqually Entrance and Longmire was under construction over the summer, and construction is scheduled to resume in the spring.

Longmire and other parts of the park sustained significant damage from flooding in 2006.

Another Pierce County river that was being closely monitored was the Carbon River near Fairfax. A flood warning remained in effect, and drivers were urged to be cautious.

The flood stage on the Carbon is 13.5 feet and water was expected to crest at 13.9 feet, which could flood residential areas near Crocker and Carbon River Road, officials said.

Staff writer Craig Hill contributed to this report.