Record-breaking storm pushes Western Washington over annual rainfall average

A wind-fueled storm blowing through Western Washington on Tuesday bumped the region over its normal rainfall for the year and prompted flood and wind advisories across the state.

In addition, temperatures in Tacoma and Seattle hit 60 degrees by midmorning, breaking a record set in 1957 for a high of 59 degrees.

By 5 p.m., Sea-Tac Airport registered 38.53 inches of rain for 2015, moving just above the normal annual rainfall of 37.49 inches, with 23 days left in the year.

Forecasters said Tuesday’s precipitation heightened concern about already-swollen rivers topping their banks because of rain melting recent snowfall.

By 5 p.m. Tuesday, 1.61 inches had fallen at Sea-Tac, which tied a daily precipitation record set in 1971.

Monday’s 1.08 inches of rain at Sea-Tac Airport broke the old record for the date, which was set in 1968 at 0.88 inches.

The mountains on Tuesday were expected to receive four to six inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

Mount Rainier National Park reported a 20-inch drop in its snowpack thanks to recent rains, bringing it to 43 inches. Paradise snowplay area doesn’t open until snow is 63 inches deep. It did not open last year.

Rain stays in the forecast through the rest of the week.

Snow levels were expected to climb to 8,000 feet later Tuesday, and the Northwest Avalanche Center warned of high avalanche danger in the Cascades and Olympics.

A wind advisory warning of strong winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour was in effect through mid-afternoon.

Some high winds recorded Tuesday: Crystal Mountain, 93 mph; Mount Baker, 60 mph; White Pass, 99 mph; Hoquiam, 44; and Port Townsend, 38.

A flood watch for most of Western Washington, including Pierce County, remained through Wednesday (Dec. 9).

“We have a lot of major flooding in the forecast,” said Josh Smith, an NWS meteorologist in Seattle.

No rivers in Pierce County threatened to top their banks, but officials continued to monitor them.

“This amount of rain will put extra pressure on steep slopes … leading to an increased threat of landslides,” the advisory reads.

A landslide near Edmonds was discovered Monday and led to the cancellation of Sounder and Amtrak trains running between Seattle and Everett. Service was expected to resume Thursday morning.

Rain stays in the forecast through the rest of the week.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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