Heavy rains cause road closures elsewhere in state

Heavy rain brought flooding and concerns about landslides to parts of the Pacific Northwest on Monday — but the weather had no effect on state highways in Clallam and Jefferson counties, according to a state Department of Transportation spokesperson.

“Thankfully, we have no new road closures due to the recent weather event in the Olympic Peninsula,” said Tina Werner, DOT spokesperson, in an email on Tuesday.

“Our maintenance crews are actively responding to clear storm drains, monitoring all bridges and culverts, and assisting with crash cleanup and traffic control as needed,” she said. “We will continue to monitor weather conditions and respond accordingly”

A nearly 15-mile stretch of state Highway 7 in Washington was shut down Tuesday because of severe flooding, and there was no estimate on when it will reopen. A number of ski resorts on Oregon’s Mount Hood shut down Monday due to heavy rain and high winds.

Olympia and the Seattle area exceeded rainfall records Monday set in 1972, while parts of northwest Oregon got nearly 3 inches of rain, smashing a previous record.

The rain came after an unusually dry January but was unlikely to help lift the region out of a drought because most of the moisture fell as rain and not snow even at higher elevations. Warmer temperatures that came with the so-called atmospheric river also are melting existing snow, authorities said.

Mountain snowpack that melts in the spring is critical for forestalling drought conditions in the lowlands.

“Basically, all of this precipitation is falling as rain below 6 or 7,000 feet, and so it’s not actually really adding any snowpack,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Colby Neuman told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

The weather prompted Mount Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge and Summit Pass in Oregon all to close their doors Monday, but the resorts were mostly back in business Tuesday. A lower-elevation resort, Ski Bowl, remained closed Tuesday.

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Peninsula Daily News Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.

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