Still ‘all hands on deck’ as region responds to record-setting rain, flooding

Nov 15, 2021, 9:30 AM | Updated: Nov 16, 2021, 11:09 am

A second atmospheric river blew into the Western Washington region Monday morning, causing thousands of power outages, road closures, downed trees, mudslides, and severe flooding, especially in areas of Whatcom County.

Flood warnings continue Tuesday, damage across Western Washington

While most of the rain and winds have either stopped or significantly calmed down since their peaks mid-afternoon on Monday, people across the region are left dealing with fear that rivers will continue to rise and the messes left behind.

I-5 remains closed in both directions near Bellingham for a mudslide and the Elwha River bridge on Highway 101 into Port Angeles is closed — signifying the challenges people face just to get around.

Several school districts have already announced closures for Tuesday.

Check school closures

Forecasters say the weather for the rest of the week returns to normal for November, but that also means a return to cold temperatures.

Puget Sound Energy Outage Map
Seattle City Light
Snohomish County PUD Outage Map

5:52pm – Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency weather proclamation on Monday evening. That will help mobilize response efforts for areas most affected by heavy flooding and landslides. Read the full proclamation here.

5:47pm – Power outages have persisted across Western Washington into the evening. Puget Sound Energy reports roughly 87,000 impacted customers, while Snohomish County PUD reports 27,000 customers without power. Seattle City Light is dealing with just 18 active events, impacting an estimated 427 customers.

5:41pm – Both directions of I-5 in Whatcom County near Bellingham will remain closed overnight, according to WSDOT.

5:25pm – A Wind Advisory remains in effect until 7 p.m. for much of the Western Washington region, from Skagit County to Toledo. Wind gusts have considerably died down since peak speeds around 12 p.m.

4:51pm – Rainy conditions may have faded in the late afternoon, but for cities like Bellingham, it’s still an “all hands on deck” situation as workers respond to impacts from record-setting rainfall and flooding.

According to Bellingham officials, the city saw upwards of 4.5 inches of rain in just 36 hours, taking sewer pipes and pumping stations to capacity. That has city arborists responding to numerous downed trees, while crews work to clear blocked storm drains, and monitor sewer services and lake levels.

4:46pm – Rain and wind is quickly turning to snow in the mountain passes.

4:37pm – Reminder that the Sounder Train N Line (north) was completely canceled today for potential mudslides. Sound Transit says the S Line (south) will experience 10-minute delays. It later updated the alert to say that the 3:35 train out of Seattle was delayed 20 minutes for weather.

4:30pm – WSDOT says the Highway 101 Bridge over the Elwha River is completely closed until further notice. There’s no detour because of standing water or nearby mudslides. WSDOT crews will reopen the bridge once it’s safe.

4:20pm – Valley Regional Fire says it has responded to five trees across roads or on homes today, and another 13 downed wires or other storm related issues.

4:01pm – The National Weather Service is tracking high wind gusts across the state.

Here are a handful of highlights from Monday: Sea-Tac Airport – 58 mph at 9:40 am, Paine Field – 53 mph at 11:59 am, Bellingham Airport – 54 mph at 8:32 am, JBLM – 48 mph at 12:51 pm, Bremerton Airport – 40 mph at 7:23 am, Whidbey Island NAS – 63 mph at 1:01 pm, Hoquiam Airport – 60 mph at 11:06 am, New Dungeness Lighthouse – 62 mph at 12:08 pm.

3:48pm – The National Weather Service says there are three rivers at four different locations that are in major flood stage:
– Bogachiel R. near La Push (cresting now)
– Nooksack R. @ N Cedarville (believed to be cresting now)
– Skagit R. near Concrete (already crested)
– Skagit R. near Mt. Vernon (will crest Tuesday afternoon)

3:42pm – Drivers should look out for several road closures brought on by flooding and landslides today. Those include:

3:16pm – All that moisture fell as snow in the mountains. Check for falling snow levels.

2:56pm – Trees are down on Valley Avenue in Fife, the Elwha Bridge on Highway 101 is closed, and a semi truck blocks SB I-5 near the Cowlitz River. That’s in addition to a mudslide along I-5 in Whatcom County at milepost 245 that is blocking all lanes. Drivers beware of downed trees and power lines, and standing water.

2:43pm – The National Weather Service says winds have peaked in most places today and will continue to dwindle into Tuesday. However, areas around Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca might experience gusts into the evening.

2:36pm – Semi-truck still blocking Deception Pass Bridge. WSDOT says to expect delays.

2:30pm – The U.S. Coast Guard says it has successfully rescued 10 people from flooded areas near Forks and Highway 110.

2:20pm – Thousands of people are without power after the storm front rolled through. There are 118,000 Puget Sound Energy customers without power, with most outages in the areas of Tacoma, Skagit County, and Chehalis. Another 16,000 Snohomish County PUD customers are without power, mostly in areas of Arlington, Camano Island, Granite Falls, and Lake Stevens. Another 800 Seattle City Light customers are without power.

2:12pm – Forecasters say a convergence zone is forming near the King-Snohomish County line. The Space Needle camera gives us a good visual of the difference in Seattle versus the North Sound.

1:56pm – A mudslide along I-5 in Whatcom County at milepost 245 has all northbound lanes blocked thanks to a tree in the road. There were no serious injuries reported, although three vehicles were damaged.

Meanwhile, a semi-truck is tipped over and leaning on a Deception Pass Bridge railing, blocking all northbound traffic off Whidbey Island. State patrol says the driver is out and OK, and a tow truck is on the way.

1:35pm – Road crews across the region are dealing with downed trees and power lines, and standing water. Check your route if you have to drive and expect delays.

1:30pm – While rain has died down in several areas, KIRO 7 meteorologist Claire Anderson warns that windy conditions are expected to persist through the evening, with gusts as high as nearly 60 miles an hour near Whidbey Island, and around 40-50 miles an hour near Seattle and Tacoma.

1:12pm – Reports of sun in areas of North and West Seattle. However, the temperatures are expected to drop in Seattle and the South Sound. Already, the National Weather Service said temperatures dropped by 9 degrees in 20 minutes across Everett as the front passed through.

1:01pm – The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office has crews out rescuing drivers stuck in standing water. Again, officials are warning people to avoid standing water if possible.

12:50pm – The U.S. Coast Guard is evacuating people out of Forks on Monday, according to KIRO 7. People west of Forks, near Highway 110, were in danger from rising flood water. KIRO 7 reports at least 10 people are affected.

12:44pm – River update via the National Weather Service:

Nooksack R. at Everson appears to be cresting. This is the water flowing into the Sumas area.

Nooksack R. at Ferndale will likely crest during Tuesday.

The Calawah R. near Forks has crested and is beginning to recede.

The Bogachiel R. near La Push will likely crest in the next 1-3hrs.

The Elwha R. at McDonald Bridge will likely crest in the next 1-3hrs.

Skagit R. at Concrete appears to be cresting.

Skagit R. near Mt Vernon will crest tomorrow and may be near record stage.

Samish R. near Burlington appears to have crested.

12:36pm – Messy landslides near Forks. Crews are working to clean those up.

12:27pm – KIRO 7 Meteorologist Morgan Palmer found a perfect illustration of where the warm, wet weather is coming from. Aloha, rain and wind.

12:23pm – Special weather statement issued for the Lake Stevens, Granite Falls, Arlington, and Concrete areas until 1:15 p.m. Seek shelter in a sturdy structure.

12:10pm – People in the Sumas and Bellingham regions are asked to avoid driving if possible and certainly avoid driving through standing water.

11:57am – It’s a rough day at sea with a High Wind Warning in effect until 7 p.m. Several runs on Washington State Ferries have been canceled or delayed due to the weather. Additionally, the Hood Canal Bridge temporarily closed from 11:08 a.m. to 11:44 a.m.

Check with WSDOT for updated information on ferry schedules and changes here.

11:53am – Again, road crews are reminding drivers to use extreme caution and to expect delays as they clear downed trees and power lines.

11:49am – The National Weather Service reports a 99 mph gust on Mount Rainier (6880 feet in elevation) — wind speeds at 67 mph.

11:47am – Drivers are warned to use caution during the storm. Downed trees and power lines have closed off several main roads and back streets.

11:37am – The mayor of Mount Vernon has declared a state of emergency due to flooding, KIRO 7 reports. Three riverfront parks are closed and a flood wall was deployed. The city anticipates closing the Highway 538 bridge if the river reaches 35 feet at the Riverside Gauge, according to KIRO 7.

The mayor is urging residents to prepare their homes and businesses for widespread flooding.

Contact Skagit County Department of Emergency Management at 360-416-1850 for sandbags and other resources.

11:39am – The National Weather Service says four rivers have reached record levels during this recent flood event: Nooksack River at Cedarville, Samish River at Burlington, Bogachiel River near La Push, and the Calawah River near Forks.

11:35am – Parks and trails are closed in Puyallup, according to police. They’ll reopen once it’s safe for visitors.

11:20am – The front is making its way to Whidbey Island, according to the NWS.

11:05am – Strong winds out on the coast. Port Townsend is expected to see strong gusts, according to the NWS.

10:51am – Snoqualmie Valley Road is closed for major flooding.

10:34am – Stronger winds and colder temperatures are on the way.

10:26am – Road closures across Whatcom County, too. WSDOT says reopening a road is more than just clearing debris. It also means making sure that the nearby hillside is stable.

10:23am – Several roads are closed just across King County duty to flooding, and downed trees and power lines. Stay up to date here.

10:10am – About 40,000 PSE customers are without power. Another 400 Snohomish County PUD customers have no power.

10:03am – 58 mph gust clocked at Sea-Tac!

10:00am – Extensive flooding in and around the Sumas area. Several roads are closed.



9:54am – Get ready, Seabrook. The National Weather Service says it’s about to get gusty until about noon.

9:41am – Neighborhoods in Whatcom County are under several inches of water.

9:32am – A Wind Advisory is in effect for areas along the I-5 corridor from Seattle south to the state border, and most of Kitsap County. Expect sustained winds from 15-30 mph and gusts up to 45 mph until at least 4 p.m. There’s also a High Wind Warning in the Admiralty Inlet area with gusts up to 60 mph until at least 7 p.m.

9:07am – Check out the peak wind speeds from the National Weather Service. We know of someone who lost two umbrellas to the wind gusts this morning.


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Still ‘all hands on deck’ as region responds to record-setting rain, flooding