Flooded rivers receding, but landslide threat remains


by KING 5 News


Posted on December 13, 2010 at 8:43 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 13 at 4:05 PM

SEATTLE - Western Washington is drying out from a weekend of record rains, but flood warnings remain on some rivers and geologists say landslides are still a threat.

Much of the Puget Sound region enjoyed clear skies Monday a day after Seattle was soaked with more than 2 inches of rain. At one point during the weekend, flood warnings had been posted for more than 20 rivers in the state, but that was down to nine by midday Monday with the water rapidly receding.

No deaths or serious injuries have been reported. Most damage was from landslides and flooding in low-lying rural areas. King County road closures.

Hillsides throughout the region are saturated, so the threat of more slides will continue this week.

KING 5 meteorologist Rich Marriott says we'll continue to see mild temperatures.

The rainfall Sunday set a record at Sea-Tac Airport of 2.19 inches, breaking the mark for the date of 1.70 set in 1966. The overall one-day record for Sea-Tac is over 5 inches.

Other records set Sunday were 1.8 inches at Olympia, 1.61 inches at Bellingham, 1.18 inches at Port Angeles, 1.92 inches at Renton, and 3.1 inches at Shelton.

Some overall two-day storm totals were 5.59 inches at Shelton, 5.56 inches at Bremerton, 3.6 inches at Sea-Tac, 2.24 inches at Bellingham, 1.28 inches at Everett and more than 11 inches of rain at Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula.

The Stillaquamish River reached record flood stage Sunday afternoon, tying the record set in November of 2006.  About 230 homes and businesses in Granite Falls near the Stillaguamish River were asked to evacuate.

Sandbagging efforts in Stanwood along the Stillaguamish continued late into Sunday night.

Flood warnings remain in effect on the Green, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Chehalis, Skykomish, Skokomish, Satsop, Nooksack, Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers. Current flood watches and warnings

The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated in response to flooding conditions on several rivers and emergency operations centers have been activated in Snohomish, Pierce and Skagit counties.

Snohomish County's Department of Emergency Management is monitoring river levels along the Stillaguamish, Snohomish and Skykomish rivers.

County officals say while levels on the Snohomish River remain high, they have been lower than initially anticipated.

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon issued an emergency declaration to respond to flooding throughout the area. The emergency declaration frees up county resources for quicker response to flooding and helps the county document damages for federal reporting. 

As rivers recede, Snohomish County residents are asked to begin documenting any damage their property may have incurred through photographs, repair receipts and values of property replacement.

Residents and business owners can begin reporting damage assessments by calling the Snohomish County's Department of Emergency Management (DEM) at 425-388-5088 until 6 p.m. Monday and between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. the remainder of this week. DEM will be collecting totals and sending them to state and federal emergency management agencies.

"Now that we're moving into recovery, it's very important to total damages throughout Snohomish County," Reardon said.

The Red Cross has opened shelters at Cedar Home Seventh Day Adventist Church, 28505 68th St. NW, Stanwood, and at Granite Falls Middle School.

In King County, a recorded flood-information hotline is updated each hour for citizens wanting information in flood areas in King County. The number is 206-296-8200 or 1-800-945-9263.

Landslides close roads

Landslides throughout the greater Seattle area have closed roads and forced the evacuation of homes. Beach Drive was closed in both directions Sunday night after a hillside gave way in the 6200 block and a slide came down at 125th and Riviera on the Burke Gilman Trail. West Marginal Way was closed for hours while a slide was cleaned up. Crews cut 25 trees that had fallen down onto the road. Seattle landslide information

On Mercer Island a slide pushed two cars into a ravine, and nine homes in a Juanita subdivision were tagged because of concerns over the stability of a hillside subdivision.

A rockslide blocks all northbound and southbound lanes on Chuckanut Drive (SR 11) just north of Legg Road.

Amtrak Cascades train service between Portland and Vancouver B.C. will resume Tuesday after a slide near Ridgfield was cleared. Northline Sounder commuter train service between Seattle and Everett will not be available today or Tuesday due to slides.

King County officials say a wastewater overflow occurred in Seattle's Meadowbrook Park when torrential rains forced high volumes of stormwater and wastewater into the sewer lines. The water's force blew open a concrete block over a sediment trap, causing wastewater to spill into the park. The park was closed to the public while crews work on clean-up.

Crews were sampling bacteria levels in Lake Washington after a 1.6 million-gallon sewage spill.

More rain tonight

KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott says an approaching cold front will spread increasing rain into Western Washington later tonight with about 4-6 hours of steady rain before the cold front moves through before daybreak.

There may be enough energy in the atmosphere to generate a few isolated thundershowers.

"This system will not generate enough rain to affect the rivers, however, it will help to keep the ground saturated for landslides," he said.

Snow levels will fall with the passage of the front dropping from 4-5,000 feet overnight to about 3,000 feet early Tuesday and 2,000-2,500 ft Tuesday afternoon. There will be quite a few showers around on Tuesday and possibly a thundershower as well, especially along the coast.