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Atmospheric river brings record rain, flooding, landslides

January 13, 2021 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — The Pacific Northwest is experiencing heavy rains, flooding, some landslides and road closures as a rain event known as an atmospheric river arrived in Washington and Oregon.

Seattle reached the normal January total rainfall before 3 A.M. Tuesday, making it the wettest start to a year on record, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. Sounder commuter trains connecting Snohomish County to Seattle were canceled all week because of the threat of landslides.

The National Weather Service in Portland issued a flood watch through Wednesday morning. In Eastern Oregon, Interstate 84 was closed Tuesday afternoon in Baker City and Pendleton because of truck crashes in wintry weather.

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By 11 a.m. Tuesday, Seattle and Olympia had set new rainfall records for the day with 1.34 inches in Seattle and 1.70 inches in Olympia, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

People in Seaside, Oregon saw a semi-annual display of King Tides crashing onto shore Tuesday, KOIN-TV reported. Seaside’s fire officials said the town’s Sunset Boulevard had to be closed because of large waves and debris including large logs. Flooding from constant downpours has also been an issue, officials said.

The Snoqualmie River near Carnation, Washington, is expected to produce minor to moderate flooding by Wednesday.

The Nehalem River northwest of Portland near Foss was expected to reach flood stage Tuesday afternoon and crest late Tuesday, the weather agency said. Minor flooding near Mohler and Nehalem was expected. Additionally, high water closed state Highway 126 several miles east of Florence Tuesday, state Department of Transportation officials said.

Excessive rain is also leading to landslide threats into Wednesday.

The Washington state Department of Transportation reported a landslide Tuesday blocking the northbound lane of US 101 west of Olympia near Artic. Crews were working to clear it by the end of the day, officials said.

Snow also fell over the Northern Cascades overnight and into Tuesday before turning to rain as temperatures increased.

“For the Stevens Pass corridor, we’re looking at the avalanche trend increasing tonight with incoming snowfall,” said Harlan Sheppard, Washington State Department of Transportation Avalanche Forecaster and Control Technician.