Calm for now

Weather system heading this way likely to bring heavy rain, flooding

By Jim Haley

Herald Writer

It was sunny, dry and a bit breezy Friday, but you can consider the relatively nice weather just the lull between the storms that could bring flooding to Snohomish County rivers by Sunday or Monday, emergency managers said.

Heavy winds and a torrent of rain saturated Western Washington on Thursday, causing power outages, mudslides, blown-over garbage cans, flooded basements and downed trees.

The Snohomish County PUD registered wind gusts up to 45 mph.

This morning, there may be a little snow on the ground above the 500-foot level, but the freezing level is expected to rise rapidly over the weekend.

That plus another incoming storm system raise the possibility of flooding and continued soggy conditions.

"The combination of saturated ground, the rivers still running high, low-level snow melt and more heavy rain Saturday night and Sunday means a distinct possibility of flooding," said Chris Colmore, program specialist with the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

"We will be watching the rivers all weekend," she said, and making plans to possibly open the department’s emergency operations center on Sunday if things turn bad.

Public employees were taking advantage of Friday’s lull in the storm to clean up the mess remaining from Thursday night and early Friday morning. Snohomish County road crews spent the day attacking a number of mudslides.

Slides were reported on Picnic Point Road in north Edmonds, Short School Road in the Snohomish area and Fern Bluff Road east of Monroe, said Steve Pratt, county road maintenance director. In addition, a beaver dam overflowed on the Index-Galena Road near Index.

"We were able to work with the beavers and lower that one a little," Pratt said.

Between 15 and 20 trees fell onto roads, most of them in the north part of the county where the winds apparently were more severe.

Still, the county roads dodged serious damage.

"We feel pretty good about this one," Pratt said. "But we could get ice and snow and then back to rain" over the weekend. "It’s supposed to rain like heck Saturday and Sunday and we’ll be back to watching the rivers," Pratt said. "It’s a good thing Mother Nature gave us this nice day (Friday) to work on it."

Near Granite Falls, a saturated steep bank gave way in the 17800 block of 116th Place NE and plowed into the back of a an unoccupied house. The slide also forced a garage forward about 10 feet off its slab and into a recreational vehicle, which was damaged.

Plenty of power customers also were affected, particularly in north Snohomish County and on Camano Island, in what was described by PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos as a "significant wind event" — not a major storm.

As many as 14,500 electricity customers were without power at times early Friday, about 10,000 at the peak, Neroutsos said. About 6,000 of them were on south Camano Island. The problem most often was trees or branches falling across power lines.

"We’ll be working as long as it takes to get people back up," Neroutsos said.

As of Friday evening, crews were still tackling isolated outages, with about 2,500 customers still affected.

Neroutsos suggested that people with power still out this morning make sure the PUD knows about it.

Report outages at 425-783-1000 or toll free, 877-783-1000.

You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447 or send e-mail to haley@heraldnet.com.

Report Snohomish County and Camano Island power outages by calling 425-783-1000 or toll free, 877-783-1000.

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