BELLINGHAM, Washington (AP) – At least one person was missing and believed to be dead when the snow turned into rain on Friday and flooded the Pacific Northwest, creating flooding, landslides and avalanche danger in the mountains.
Brad Johansson, Undersheriff of Grays Harbor, said a 72-year-old man never returned after leaving his home west of Olympia, Washington, in Cosmopolis on Friday morning to take his car to a higher level.
The man’s residence was on a flooded street and authorities fear his vehicle was swept in flood on a steep bank next to his driveway, Johansson said.
Snow and rain forced the closure of portions of Washington State‘s two major highways – Interstate 90 and Interstate 5 – with flooding that also inundated roads across western Washington and Oregon.
In Lewis County, southwest Washington, a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 in both directions south of Chehalis was closed due to flooding from the Chehalis River. All Interstate 5 lanes in this area reopened Friday afternoon.
The main route via Washington’s Cascades – I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass – is closed on Thursday due to avalanche danger, heavy snowfall and poor visibility. Stevens Pass on US 2, White Pass on US 12 and Blewett Pass on US 97 are also closed on Thursday.
Traffic officials say all four mountain passes connecting West Washington to East Washington would likely remain closed until Sunday due to dangerous conditions.
And part of one of the few other roads that cross the state, State Route 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River, was closed for several hours Friday due to a fatal accident near Lyle, Finn said.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued a declaration of emergency on Friday over severe winter storms that date back to December 17. State agencies and local jurisdictions are coordinating resources to fix damaged property and infrastructure, assess damage caused by the storms, and carry out repairs, he said.
Washington State University canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday to give students enough time to return to Pullman in east Washington after the severe winter weather, officials said on the university’s website.
Near Stevens Pass, northeast of Seattle, the city of Leavenworth declared a state of emergency and asked the National Guard for help after 91 centimeters of snow fell within 24 hours.
City guides are concerned about the weight of snow on buildings and houses, KCPQ-TV reported.
In Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, firefighters reacted to a house sliding down a slope. Live video from KING-TV appeared to show crews rescuing a person and working to put out a fire right outside the house.
A man trapped in the basement of the house was freed, according to the Seattle Fire Department. A woman escaped on her own while a dog died and another went missing, the firefighters said.
Dozens of guards and warnings were in place in Washington and Oregon, including a flood warning for the northern Oregon coast after heavy rains.
The National Weather Service said Hoquiam, Wash., In Grays County, received record rainfall of 5.78 inches (14.68 centimeters) Thursday. Other areas saw almost half of the rain in one day they would expect in January, according to the weather service.
Southwest Washington experienced the worst flooding in a decade late Thursday, and some rivers reached heights of more than 5.5 meters by late Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
East of Seattle, parts of downtown Issaquah were closed on Friday after Issaquah Creek sent water down the streets. Some houses were flooded and at least one apartment building was evacuated, KIRO-TV reported.
Roads in Centralia and the Thurston County area flooded Friday and members of the Washington National Guard helped fill sandbags and other inquiries, the station said on Twitter. According to the American Red Cross, about 50 people sought protection on Friday in an area in Centralia.
In northwest Washington, snow fell in Bellingham while roads across Whatcom County were flooded. Exceptionally high tides and winds caused coastal flooding around homes in Birch Bay, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. Floods of homes and businesses also hit cities like Edison and University Place.
In northwest Oregon, coastal floods destroyed communities after heavy rains. Astoria had more than four inches of rain on Thursday, breaking a record for rain that day in 1914.
The nearby town of Warrenton declared a state of emergency on Friday over widespread flooding and school districts in Astoria, Warrenton, Knappa and Seaside.
In Oregon, Interstate 84 reopened after a landslide closed nearly 50 miles of the Troutdale-Hood River freeway on Thursday.
Forecasters say rains should ease over the weekend, but landslides will continue to be a risk through Saturday as the soils remain saturated.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.