SILVANA — Wednesday carried in Snohomish County’s first round of seasonal flooding, swelling the Stillaguamish River in Arlington and Silvana.
A second helping is possible on Thanksgiving. This time it’s more likely to hit the Snohomish River downstream from Monroe.
The holiday week often brings flooding to this part of the state, thanks to heavy rainfall and melting snow. This year, it didn’t help that the region has had record high temperatures for late November.
The main stem of the Stilly crested at major flood stage in Arlington just before 9 a.m. Wednesday. Hours later, Silvana was surrounded by water that blocked the main routes into town.
Silvana Fire Chief Keith Strotz spent part of his morning urging people not to drive through standing water. Capt. Gino Bellizzi and firefighter Henry Blankenship helped one woman whose car stalled out. She had been in a hurry to get to a doctor’s appointment. They got her on her way again. Crews were glad to see a county truck arrive moments later with road-closure signs. They headed back to the station to get the hovercraft ready for a long day.
Up the road, Ed and Tia Lane were in town from California to spend Thanksgiving with their son at his new home. The house was protected by an earthen berm, but the fields had slipped underwater while the pair ran an errand to the store, they said.
In Stanwood, Fire Chief John Cermak said he was thankful for the day’s low tide at 2 p.m. That provided more capacity for the river.
A couple of local routes were closed, including Norman Road near Boe Road. Water covered Marine Drive as well.
Highway 530 east of Arlington was submerged under 6 inches of water earlier in the day, disrupting commutes.
The troubles weren’t limited to north county.
About a dozen homes near Granite Falls were affected by the South Fork Stilly, said Capt. Jeff Torgerson with Fire District 17. Neighbors warned one another to move their cars about 3 a.m. No evacuations were necessary. The water started to recede hours later.
Automated emergency calls woke up about 20 households around 2:20 a.m. on the Mountain Loop Highway, said Lt. Jeff Brand of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
A crane also was deployed to the U.S. 2 trestle over the Snohomish River. It was being used to set loose trees and debris that can create logjams.
Farther east, the Skykomish River jumped its banks.
In Monroe, a rescue team using inflatable kayaks was called out around 9:30 a.m. near the Lewis Street Bridge. They ferried a man and woman away from a homeless encampment surrounded by the rising river.
The pair was taken to the local nonprofit Take The Next Step, which often offers homeless people a safe, warm place to stay.
“They were really wet, but they’re doing okay,” said Heather Chadwick with the fire district.
Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies went up and down the river to warn others in homeless camps about the dangers, she said.
Before sunrise, a 10-year-old boy and his mother were rescued from a car on Mann Road south of Sultan. They had stalled out in about 3 feet of water along the Sky. Their car was abandoned, but they were OK.
“You can’t do that with a vehicle,” Sultan Fire Chief Merlin Halverson said. “You could have a stump come flying down the river and completely destroy you.”
The whole western half of the state will be socked with rain and drizzle through the long weekend, with a brief break Friday. Meteorologists have issued a flood watch through dinnertime Thanksgiving Day.
Halverson said he was concerned that many roads will remain impassible, and frustrated Thanksgiving travellers will try to make it anyway. Then his crews would be called back, holiday or not.
Official counts on property damage haven’t been compiled. No requests for temporary housing had been forwarded to the county Department of Emergency Management, deputy director Dara Salmon said.
The warm rain also brings the threat of landslides. Saturated soil is expected to heighten that risk in the days ahead.
Almost two inches of rain fell Tuesday on the Mountain Loop, in a region prone to slides. Muddy waters shut down a 16-mile stretch from Darrington to the Bedal campground.
“We always pay extra attention when we get a lot of moisture,” Salmon said. “We ask people to be aware of the land around them.”
Holiday travelers should plan for snowy conditions in the mountain passes. Snow levels will rise to 8,000 feet through Thursday, before dipping almost a mile in elevation by Black Friday.
Travelers are encouraged to keep an emergency kit in their cars, Salmon said. She was hopeful that she could go home for Thanksgiving dinner.
“I think so?” she said. “Question mark?”
Reporter Sharon Salyer contributed to this story.
Want to keep an eye on river levels?
Snohomish County flood gauges: snohomish.onerain.com/home.php
River forecasts from the National Weather Service: water.weather.gov/ahps