Heavy rain in Washington leads to landslides, flooding rivers, closed roads

Dec 5, 2023, 9:03 AM | Updated: 4:16 pm

Image: A "road closed ahead" sign was put up on a Lynnwood road due to flooding....

A "road closed ahead" sign was put up on a Lynnwood road due to flooding. (Photo courtesy of the Lynnwood Police Department)

(Photo courtesy of the Lynnwood Police Department)

Car crashes, downed trees, and flooding rivers are plaguing Western Washington as the atmospheric river forecasted over the past week is dumping rain, bringing floods and landslides to the region.

Duvall, Snohomish and Hoodsport got more than 7 inches of rain between 4 a.m. Monday and 4 a.m. Tuesday.

In that same time frame, at least 5 inches of rain hit the Marblemount/Darrington area, Granite Falls, Owl Mountain and Humptulips.

The Seattle area has gotten more than two inches of rain in the past 24 hours, as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A landslide in Seattle has blocked off portions of the Burke-Gilman trail, with Seattle Parks and Recreation crews working on setting up detours on the trail.

A landslide is disrupting Amtrak train service between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, as well. Service has been canceled through at least Thursday morning.

Service alert: Amtrak train service in the PNW blocked

Rivers see major flooding

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS), a part of the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reported that as of 3 p.m. Tuesday that four Washington rivers are experiencing “major” flooding: the Skagit River near Mount Vernon and Concrete (about 35 miles apart), the Stillaguamish River near Arlington, the Snohomish River near Snohomish and the Snoqualmie River near Carnation.

According to NWS Seattle, the Stillaguamish at Arlington set a preliminarily record of 21.34 feet around 1:50 p.m. Tuesday. That broke the previous record of 21.16 feet, which was set in 2010.

The Stillaguamish River spilled over its banks in Granite Falls Tuesday. Wendy Prater, who has lived there 30 years, provide KIRO Newsradio a startling update.

“If you go down toward where the river is … the houses are underwater,” Prater said. “Supposedly, they were supposed to have sandbags out here. We did that back in the day when it was really, really bad.”

Another woman who lives in Arlington was surprised to see the river at this level.

“I have not seen it this high in a long time. And I have lived down (Highway 530) my whole life,” the woman told KIRO Newsradio.

“When that river is full, it’s moving. It’s fast, really fast,” Prater added.

King County issued a flood alert at 6:44 a.m. Tuesday, as the Snoqualmie River passed flood Phase 3 and moderate flooding started in the Snoqualmie Valley. The Tolt River also reached Phase 2 flood alert.

Read more here: Atmospheric river returns to Western Washington, bringing heavy rains

In Pierce County, a flood warning for the Nisqually River was issued Tuesday and then it was extended through Thursday morning.

Water levels won’t be higher than predicted, the National Weather Service (NWS) said, but it will take longer for the extra water to make it down river.

The National Weather Service has a flood watch posted from Tuesday evening through Wednesday evening.

Rivers at risk of moderate flooding:


The Lynnwood Police Department sent images to KIRO Newsradio Tuesday showing at least one major road closed to flooding. In addition, the city of Bothell posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Tuesday that “several roads are closed due to flooding.” Images were caught by KIRO Newsradio of water pooling around homes in Kenmore as well.

Image: Water from heavy rainfall can be seen around a house in Kenmore on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.

Water from heavy rainfall can be seen around a house in Kenmore on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (Photo: Nate Connors, KIRO Newsradio)

Precipitation amounts anticipated to fall in the mountains through Tuesday ranges from 5 to 10 inches. Along the coast, 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected, while the western interior will range from a half inch falling in the Olympic Mountains rain shadow to 3 and a half inches.

Many rivers are expected to start overflowing their banks by Tuesday afternoon, and evacuations may be advised in some places.

A wind advisory also went into effect as high gusty winds hit the San Juan Islands, Admiralty Inlest, and western Whatcom and Skagit counties.

Rain will peter out by late Wednesday or early Thursday before returning Saturday. High temperatures in the lowlands of western Washington will cool back into the 40s, with lows dropping into the 30s.

Advice for concerned residents

Officials warn drivers that water on roadways can present a hazard, especially as it could be moving faster than it appears. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) urged those on the roads to “be cautious, slow down, give each other room.”

NWS Seattle and WSDOT also encouraged drivers not to drive through flood waters, with NWS Seattle noting that “most flood fatalities occur in vehicles” and “12 inches of water can sweep a car off the road.”

Snohomish County’s Emergency Management director Lucia Schmit said residents can sign up for emergency alert notifications, and people near rivers should pack food, clothes, and electronic chargers in advance, and have important papers in that “go” bag.

“A typical go kit is going to have essentials,” KIRO Newsradio meteorologist and emergency planner Ted Buehner said recently. “So food, water, medicines, cash, anything along those lines, it’s got everything you really need, when you need to take off, maybe some additional clothing. If it’s during the winter season, maybe some blankets and warm clothing and things along those lines.”

Prepping for the ‘big one’: Where to go and what to put in a go kit

Head here to monitor National Weather Service Seattle for the latest river flood information.

Contributing: Kate Stone, Micki Gamez and Nate Connors, KIRO Newsradio

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