SULTAN — Along the banks of a quickly rising Skykomish River on Friday afternoon, city leaders in Sultan gathered phone numbers for residents willing to lend their hands and truckbeds for stacking sandbags.
The volunteers remained on standby throughout the day.
“We’re in a wait-and-see situation now,” Sultan City Councilmember Rocky Walker said.
The forecast was keeping Snohomish County residents on their toes. Flooding on the Stillaguamish, Snohomish and Skykomish rivers was expected this weekend — but it was unclear how bad it would be.
Earlier this week, the Stillaguamish was expected to come within inches of a major flood stage, typically affecting Pioneer Highway, Highway 530, Marine Drive in Stanwood and neighborhoods near Silvana.
Out in Sultan right now where water levels have reached the footsteps of some of the residents along Main Street. Lots of sandbagging happening. @EverettHerald @NWSSeattle pic.twitter.com/n43mEzYHD4— Olivia Vanni (@ogvanniphoto) February 1, 2020
The National Weather Service predicted the Stilly to reach minor flooding late Friday and remain at that level through the weekend. The river is considered in the minor flooding stage when it reaches 14 feet in Arlington, the point where it often spills over its banks and inundating Pioneer Highway near Silvana.
The City of Stanwood called off the construction of a temporary sandbag berm Friday morning after flooding projections improved slightly from earlier in the week.
“People still need to be paying attention,” said Scott North, spokesman for the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management. “Until the rivers have risen and receded, we won’t know exactly what we’re facing.”
The outlook for the Snohomish was slightly more worrisome. National Weather Service projections showed it reaching minor flooding Saturday and bordering on moderate flooding that night. In moderate flooding, water covers roads and low areas of the valley not protected by levees.
If you see water over the road, don’t drive through it, North said.
As little as 1 foot of water can make most vehicles float.
The Skykomish was projected to reach the minor flooding stage Saturday afternoon, covering pasture lands and low-lying roads.
A host of other weather concerns were also coming for Snohomish County this weekend. Gusty winds through Saturday morning may cause tree damage and power outages, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. Lower temperatures Saturday may bring snow. Temperatures could dip to freezing Sunday night.
As the ground saturates, the risk for landslides increases. Steep hillsides will be a risk throughout the weekend, the National Weather Service reported.
The potential for flooding may linger into next week. It’s looking like heavy rains and the possibility of snow persist until Tuesday.
Walker kept his eye on the river Friday, driving around to check the spots that typically flood first. Around 3 p.m, the water hovered just inches below the 14 feet required for minor flooding. Back in town, Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Copple gathered volunteers, just in case the 2,500 sandbags ready and waiting on pallets were needed.
“Hope it doesn’t happen,” she said over email. “But if it does we’re all set.”
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.