SEATTLE - A potential storm lashes the region, flooding streets, stalling cars, and leaving some to push their way out of trouble. Flood warnings are now posted on two rivers as heavy rains continue to pound Western Washington, but urban flooding is creating the biggest headache.
A flood warning is been issued for the Bogachiel River near La Push in Clallam County, the Skokomish River near Potlatch in Mason County, and the Tolt River near Carnation in King County, Snoqualmie River near the Falls in King County, South Fork Nooksack River at Saxon Bridge in Whatcom County, Nooksack River at North Cedarville in Whatcom County, North Fork Stillaguamish River and the Stillaguamish River at and near Arlington in Snohomish County.
Snow is also expected for the cascades and parts of Eastern Washington.
KING 5 Meteorologist Jeff Renner predicts heavy rain overnight with gusty winds. Some places along the Olympic Peninsula saw as much as three inches of rain by 5 p.m.
Renner expects 3 to 8 inches to fall in the Olympics over the following 24 hours. In addition, expect 2 to 8 inches of rain north of I-90 in the Cascades, 1 to 6 inches south of I-90 and 2 to 5 inches in the foothills.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, flood watches were in effect in 11 counties: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom.
Forecasters also expects snow Thursday on the east slopes of the Cascades, including Cle Elum, and in the Okanogan region, including Republic.
Light to moderate snow will develop overnight in parts of the Cascades and continue until around sunrise. Snow accumulations will range from 3 to 5 inches.
Carol Coleman lives along McAleer Creek in Lake Forest Park and is among those paying attention to the rainfall.
"Last year we did have a problem, so maybe we should get some sandbags," said Coleman.
The City of Lake Forest Park has already put together sandbag depots for the storm ahead.
Sand is also on the ready near Seattle's Thornton Creek, which has been a trouble point in years past.
Cities across the region spent the day checking and clearing clogged drains.
The rain and leaf-slickened conditions already helped cause one accident on West Lake Sammamish Parkway in Bellevue, causing a car to fly off the road and left it hanging in a tree.
"From the looks of the marks it looks like he slipped off the side of the roadway and veered off," said Lt John McCracken, Bellevue Police.
Many people are taking measures on their own to hold back the flood waters. On the mouth of the Nooksack River in Mount Vernon, Jere Boyd is building a three foot insurance policy with sandbags. Though the river is expected to crest below flood stage, Boyd is leaving nothing to chance.
"We've had water a foot and a half up the sandbags," said Boyd.
Just a few miles away, Dan Parmer dropped cloth mesh into storm drains to prevent them from clogging and flooding streets.
"They're expecting like 6 inches of rain or something, so we're just going around taking care of the puddles," said Parmer.
Winds were immediately blamed for downing a tree branch that knocked out power to about 1,300 customers near Olympia Airport Thursday afternoon.
If you plan to drive over mountain passes, be prepared for snow sleet or freezing rain. Get snow route information for driving and transit in advance of roads being closed.
At the Washington state Emergency Operations Center, experts are tracking the approaching storm.
In anticipation of several days of heavy rain, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has activated its Urban Flood Response Plan. They are staging extra drainage crews throughout the city, deploying storm observers to at-risk areas and doubling staff at its Operations Response Center.
Seattle Public Utilities is also urging residents to familiarize themselves with emergency resources and procedures, including how to prevent and respond to floods and landslides, and bad weather driving.
Tips for staying safe during heavy rains and storms
- Prepare an emergency kit with a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, bottled water and three days of non-perishable food and drinking water. Store a kit at home, work and in your car.
- Stay a way from flood waters.
- Stay out of low-lying areas during times of heavy rains. If your basement is prone to flooding, stay out of the basement until the risk of flooding has passed.
- Do not drive through standing or moving water because you never know how deep it is and you can easily get pulled away.
- Look at your storm drains and gutters and make sure they are cleared out.
- Don't put grass clippings, leaves or other debris into drains, ditches, creeks, culverts, gutters or ravines - it's against the law.
- If you live at the base of a hill or on a cliff, ensure that drainage and retaining walls are in good shape. Preventative planting can also help reduce the chance of a mud slide or flooding.
- Do not use charcoal or a gas grill to cook indoors. Carbon monoxide can be deadly.
- Establish an out-of-area contact for family members to call should the local phone system be out of service.