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‘Atmospheric river’ whips Northwest; 1 missing, I-5, other roads closed

A Coast Guard rescue swimmer escorts multiple people who were evacuated from their residences during a flood near Forks, Wash.
U.S. Coast Guard
A Coast Guard rescue swimmer escorts multiple people who were evacuated from their residences during a flood near Forks, Wash.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Flooding and landsides prompted the complete closure of the West Coast’s main north-south highway overnight Monday near Bellingham, Washington, as the culmination of days of storms and high winds wreaked havoc in the Pacific Northwest.

The extreme weather was caused by an atmospheric river — a huge plume of moisture extending over the Pacific and into Washington and Oregon. More than 158,0000 customers were without power in Western Washington at one point Monday afternoon.

In Central Oregon, winds gusting to 50-60 mph downed trees, some into power lines, causing power outages that affected hundreds of Pacific Power, Central Electric Cooperative and Midstate Electric Co-Op customers in Jefferson County and southern Deschutes/northern Klamath counties.

Interstate 5 was closed near Bellingham, just south of the Canadian border, because of the ongoing threat from debris and floodwaters.

Schools were also closed Monday. Evacuations were ordered in multiple areas as floodwaters swamped business districts and partially submerged cars in communities north of Seattle.

Forecasters said conditions should be much drier Tuesday. But the National Weather Service issued flood warnings for several rivers around Western Washington. Strong winds also hit the region Monday. Gusts pushed 60 mph in multiple places, including a gust of 58 mph at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Late Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a severe weather state of emergency in 14 Western Washington counties and said the state Emergency Management Division, with support from the Washington National Guard, would coordinate the response.

A state of emergency for the town of Hamilton was declared Sunday. People there, about 80 miles northeast of Seattle, were urged to evacuate.

Read more at: https://apnews.com/article/floods-bellingham-washington-seattle-evacuations-fc7ed53a45a33384415f8ba0dc09039e

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

The Associated Press

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