Another round of torrential rain and powerful winds swept through the Pacific Northwest on Monday. This forced schools to close and evacuated residents. 

An atmospheric river walloped the area late last week, with nearly ceaseless rain, and its tail end is “coming with one last strong push,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. 

The atmospheric river has been categorized at a level 5 — the highest level, according to The Weather Channel. These rivers in the sky are responsible for up to 65% of the western USA’s extreme rain and snow events, a 2017 study said.

The governor of Washington, Jay Inslee declared a severe weather state of emergency in 14 Western Washington counties late Monday. Jay Inslee announced a severe weather condition in fourteen Western Washington County counties. The state Emergency Management Division with the support of the Washington National Guard will coordinate the response.

Part of Interstate 5 was closed Monday due to flooding and mudslides near Bellingham Washington. Three cars were stuck in the debris. Rocky Oliphant (state Trooper) was the only one who sustained serious injuries. Tweeted by

Because of dangerous travel conditions Monday saw all Bellingham schools and other nearby areas close. 

Record rainfall fell in the city on Sunday with 2.78inches. In 1998, the previous record for one-day rainfall was 0.88 inches.

Caylon Coomes from Bellingham drove his truck, and his paddle board, from his Bellingham residence near Lake Whatcom to some of the flooded streets close by the interstate.

“It looked pretty good out there (by the lake) but the street looks a little bit better,” he said. Coomes met another man at a parking garage, where they donned wetsuits to swim into the waters and paddled through traffic stuck in the floodwaters.

The Weather Channel reports that the Skagit River, Washington’s bordering Canada, could see its highest level for 115 years.

As the water surged down the river, people were warned to expect flooding in Sedro-Woolley, Burlington and Mount Vernon. Just south of the border in Sumas, Washington, officials said city hall was flooded and that they hadn’t seen such extreme flooding since 1990.

“At this point in time there is no reasonably safe way to drive to Bellingham without putting yourself or others at risk. Please do not drive through standing or rushing water,” the city’s police department said via Twitter.

Related:Pacific Northwest atmospheric river to wallop

Southwest of Sumas, deputies using a Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office rescue vehicle evacuated stranded residents in the Everson area, officials said on Twitter. Everson police confirmed via Facebook that one person, who had been last seen holding onto the tree and was swept away in floodwaters, was now missing.

According to the National Weather Service, winds could reach hurricane strength in this region. The coast of Oregon will be the hardest hit, where winds can gust up to 50-70 mph. A gust of 58 mph wind was reported Monday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

More than 158,0000 customers were without power in western Washington at one point Monday, The Seattle Times reported.

According to emergency officials, people shouldn’t be surprised to find water along low-lying roads. They should instead turn around and avoid driving through the water. This water may be swiftly moving and deeper than what appears, which can pose a risk for motorists.

Forecasters say conditions should improve by Tuesday after parts of the region have seen more than six inches of rain in the past several days.

Contributing: The Associated Press; Zach Urness, Salem Statesman Journal



Source: USAToday.com

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