Weather officials urged Northwest residents to remain alert Sunday as more rain was predicted to fall in an area with lingering water from extreme weather earlier this month.
“There’s some good news and some pending news,” said Steve Reedy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.
The weather service on Saturday warned that flooding was possible through Sunday in northwestern Washington, but an atmospheric river—a huge plume of moisture extending over the Pacific and into the Northwest—moved farther north into Canada than expected overnight.
“The impacts weren’t quite as bad as we were anticipating during the overnight period,” Reedy said.
After a respite, rain reentered the area later Sunday, which could cause some “nuisance flooding,” he said, and rivers could start to rise again in the afternoon.
“The flooding isn’t going to be quite as bad as we were expecting 24 hours ago, but it still looks like some rivers up there could get into minor, maybe even moderate flooding,” Reedy said.
The big question is how some communities, which saw heavy damage earlier from the previous storm, will fare.
People in the small communities of Sumas and Everson in northwest Washington were asked to evacuate voluntarily Saturday night, The Bellingham Herald reported. Both towns near the Canadian border saw extreme flooding from the previous storm.
The Nooksack River topped a road in Everson on Sunday afternoon and officials were expecting Main Street to flood, Everson Mayor John Perry told The Associated Press.
“We’re just seeing the floodwaters right now,” he said. Even though the river rose slower than projected, they were preparing to close roads. “The volume of water is what we’re unsure about.”
Perry said he’s hopeful flooding doesn’t end up being as dramatic as anticipated, but the uncertainty of the bottom of the river from the last flood makes him nervous.
“I think we’re overprepared right now,” he said. “We’re monitoring it very carefully.”
Sumas resident Duane DeWaard said his garage flooded a couple of inches during the last flood. He put sandbags at the garage doors and braced for more rain to come Sunday.
“Sumas so far is doing OK,” he said.
November has been wet for northwest Washington. Bellingham recorded 11.64 inches at midnight Sunday—an all-time record for the month, the weather service said.
A station at Quillayute Airport on the north coast got 27.8 inches and could likely break a 1983 record of 29.14 inches for November, Reedy said.
A broad flood watch for western Washington was in effect until Monday morning. There were also flood warnings for some local rivers.
Reedy cautioned not driving into standing water on roadways near rivers.
“It doesn’t take a lot of water to push your car around—or truck,” he said. “Some people think just because they have a large truck, they can mow through. That’s not always the case.”
While rain will taper off Monday, another system is headed to the area starting Tuesday and spilling into Wednesday, Reedy said.
“On the bright side of things, it does still look like after we get into Wednesday, conditions look dry after the second half of the week,” he said. “So hopefully there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”
By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher