State faces threat of more ‘atmospheric rivers,’ floods

Olympics, Cascades expected to be especially drenched

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — A week and a half after damaging floods in Washington state, forecasters warned that multiple “atmospheric rivers” threaten to once again drench the Pacific Northwest.

More moisture from atmospheric rivers — huge plumes of moisture extending over the Pacific and into the Northwest — is expected to bring up to 3 inches of rain in some areas hit by the recent flooding, forecasters said.

Officials from the National Weather Service predict periods of moderate to heavy rain from Thanksgiving through Wednesday, as three systems move across the region.

Flooding was predicted in rivers draining from the Olympics and the Cascades.

The first system was expected overnight Thanksgiving with the second coming in on Saturday.

The third is expected next week.

The state is assessing millions of dollars in damage from the last atmospheric rivers.

Officials in Clallam and Jefferson counties are assessing damage after the storms, which caused damage to state Highway 112 between Clallam Bay and Sekiu and U.S. Highway 101 south of Forks that likely will take months to repair.

Damage assessments also have continued in 11 other western Washington counties that Gov. Jay Inslee declared as disaster areas with the hope of getting federal aid.

In northwest Washington’s Whatcom County, officials say damage costs could reach as high as $50 million.

Whatcom County officials said that the damage for recent flooding was estimated at $15 million to $20 million for houses, “tens of millions of dollars” for public infrastructure and up to $20 million for area business centers, the Bellingham Herald reported on Tuesday.

Rain drenched the county for three days and the Nooksack River surged over its banks Nov. 14, inundating the communities of Everson, Nooksack and Sumas.

During that time the U.S.-Canada border closed in the small city of Sumas, three bridges in Bellingham were closed and landslides blocked Interstate 5 south of Bellingham.

Jon Hutchings, director of the Whatcom County Public Works Department, said it’s been 30-plus years since flooding of this scale hit the area.

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