Residents living in the Skokomish Valley area of Mason County are under an evacuation order due to rising water and “imminent flooding,” the county said in a news release.
The alert, issued Thursday, told people to “evacuate the area immediately or be prepared to shelter in place for at least 72 hours.”
More road closures on Friday are expected, the release added.
A 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 is closed in both directions due to rising water from the Chehalis River, Trooper Will Finn with Washington State Patrol told CNN in a phone call.
“There is no viable route around I-5,” Finn said. “We ask that folks delay travel at this time.”
A flood warning is in effect for the Skokomish River at Potlatch until Saturday evening.
Above 17.5 feet, the flooding impacts for this area include “moderate flooding, with deep and quick flood waters inundating some residential areas, many roads, and much of the farm land in the Skokomish Valley.”
Too much snow and rain are leading to possible avalanches and landslides
The West has hardly seen a break over the past several weeks after being pummeled by record-breaking rain and snow from Washington down to California. The cumulative effect of all that rain and snow will increase the threat for river flooding and avalanches.
The rain and snow are helpful in mitigating drought conditions, but not when it’s too much in a short time.
Over the last several weeks, heavy rain has led to saturated soils across much of western Washington. Additional rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are forecast through Friday. In conjunction with melting snowfall over the last several days, this rain will exacerbate the ongoing flooding situation across the region. This will lead to an increased threat of landslides below 3,000 feet Friday.
“A few landslides have been reported in the last few days in western Washington and more landslides are possible,” the NWS said.
“Extreme weather has created conditions so hazardous that it’s too dangerous for our crews to be in the mountain pass areas,” the Washington state Department of Transportation tweeted. “Because of that, Snoqualmie, Stevens, White & Blewett passes will not reopen until at least Friday & possibly not until Saturday. Additionally, SR 14 and Oregon’s I-84 in the Columbia River Gorge, are also closed to freight traffic, with I-84 closed to ALL vehicles.
“This means cross-state travel is almost completely impossible.”
The rain and snow will stick around for much of the Pacific Northwest through Saturday before the area gets a break on Sunday.