Record-shattering rain drenches Western Washington to close out week
Western Washington has been no stranger to record-setting weather over the last year. That trend has carried over into 2022, with rain soaking the region late to close out the week.
In Seattle, 2 inches of rain fell on Thursday alone, making for the city’s seventh wettest January day on record. Hoquiam was hit even harder with 5.78 inches, setting the mark for the most recorded rain it’s ever seen in a single day. Olympia received nearly 4 inches of rain for its sixth-ever wettest day.
The city of Rainier in Thurston County got the worst of Thursday’s stormy weather, though, after receiving a whopping 10 inches of rain over a 24-hour period.
On Friday, that had swathes of southwest Washington underwater, with flooding fully blocking a 20-mile stretch of I-5 through Lewis County for hours. Floodwaters eventually receded enough to reopen the roadway around 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, four major mountain passes — Snoqualmie, Stevens, White, and Blewett — have been buried under snow this week, with roads through each one closed until at least Sunday.
The last time all Cascade highways and passes, the Columbia Gorge, and I-5 were all closed was in February 1996, according to meteorologist Ted Buehner in an email to KIRO Radio. Canada 1 was also closed then.
Buehner said I-5 was underwater through the Chehalis/Centralia area, and a landslide closed I-5 near Woodland. The passes received heavy snow, while Southwest Washington and Oregon saw lots of rain.
“This scenario left Western Washington cut off with the exception of the bridges across the Columbia at Kelso and Astoria,” Buehner said.