3:15 p.m. Friday update:
From Thurston Emergency Management: Evacuation Advisory Continues for Residents in Nisqually DeltaTacoma Power reduced water flow from the dam from 15,000 to 11,000cfs at 1p.m. todayOLYMPIA – The evacuation advisory instated yesterday through Thurston County Emergency Management for those living east of Durgin Road, Kuhlman Road, and Nisqually Cut-Off Road continues today. Tacoma Power reduced the flow from the La Grande Dam from 15,000 to 11,000 cubic feet of water per second at 1:00 p.m. today but waters will not begin to recede until approximately 9:00 p.m. this evening. The evacuation advisory could last until Sunday, February 9 due to flooded structures and impassable roads.A shelter established by the American Red Cross at the Gwinwood Camp and Conference Center (6015 30thAve. SE Lacey, WA 98503) will remain open until residents are able to return to their homes. The shelter is pet friendly and accessible for individuals with disabilities. Pets coming into the shelter must be crated and pet owners are encouraged to bring supplies such as food and water to care for them.The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) and Lacey Fire staged swift water team members and the Zodiac to assist in evacuations. No injuries have been reported at this time. TCSO will remain in the area and will open roadways as they become passable. Residents are reminded to not drive around road closure signs or through flooded roads.Residents are encouraged to follow Thurston County Emergency Management social media channels for regular updates:For road closures and travel impacts, visit the Thurston County Public Works Travel Impacts page at:https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/publicworks/travelImpacts.htmlResidents can monitor river levels at: www.thurstoncountywa.gov/em/pages/rivers-graphs.aspx.To receive critical countywide TCALERT messages, residents can sign-up at:https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/em/Pages/ei-alert.aspx.For more information on preparedness and having a grab and go kit, visit:https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/em/Pages/prep-personal.aspx.
2 p.m. Friday update:
From the Thurston County Sheriff's Office:
"TCSO Marine Services Unit, Dive Rescue Team, and Lacey Fire District 3 members are working in collaboration to assist with people who need out of the flood zone as well as rescuing animals stuck in the flood zone. TCSO also has staff at TC Emergency Coordination Center assisting with emergency management & coordination during the flooding in the Nisqually Valley...please be safe and “don’t drown - turnaround.”
12:15 p.m. Friday update:
Tacoma Power Reducing Release From Dam; Nisqually River Crests at McKenna
Tacoma Power is reducing the release of water from the LaGrande Dam from 17,000 cubic feet per second to 11,000 cubic feet per second by 1 p.m. today, a move that should result in a reduction in flooding in Thurston County about five hours later, according to Thurston County Emergency Management.
A flood warning continues for the Nisqually River at McKenna, but the National Weather Service in Seattle is predicting that the water levels will slowly begin to drop tonight before falling below flood stage Sunday morning.
The river crested at 12 feet at about 9 a.m. Friday, 2 feet above flood stage, which is 10 feet.
Still, many who live along the river are at risk from the flooding, especially downstream.
“High tide levels on Puget Sound may increase the amount of flooding,” according to the NWS statement. “The Nisqually River will also spill over its banks between La Grande and McKenna.”
The weather service said a new system arriving overnight should not pose a flood risk.
“Only scattered showers will remain today, then another storm comes in overnight,” according to the weather service. “This will bring much lighter precipitation, generally 1 to 3 inches in the mountains and a quarter to a half an inch for the lowlands. Snow levels will be lowering to near 2,000 feet with this storm so there will be little impact on the rivers.”
On Thursday, Thurston County Emergency Management urged those living east of Durgin Road, Kuhlman Road and Nisqually Cut-Off Road, and others, to evacuate the area due to the expected flooding caused by an increase in the amount of water released from the LaGrande Dam.
Those residents are asked to continue to stay away from the area as of noon Friday.
A shelter has been opened at Gwinwood Camp and Conference Center at 6015 30th Ave SE, Lacey. The call center at the Thurston County Emergency Coordination Center can be reached at 360-867-2800.
Elsewhere in Thurston County, the Skookumchuck River was expected to reach minor flood stage between Friday and Saturday before receding.
The Flood Warning continues for the following rivers in Washington:
• Snohomish River At Snohomish affecting Snohomish County
• Tolt River Above Carnation affecting King County
• Snoqualmie River Near Snoqualmie Falls affecting King County
• Snoqualmie River Near Carnation affecting King County
• Cedar River Near Landsburg affecting King County
• Cedar River At Renton affecting King County
• Green River Near Auburn affecting King County
• Puyallup River Near Orting affecting Pierce County
• Puyallup River At Puyallup affecting Pierce County
• Nisqually River Near National affecting Lewis and Pierce Counties
• Nisqually River At McKenna affecting Pierce and Thurston Counties
• Cowlitz River At Randle affecting Lewis County
• Newaukum River Near Chehalis affecting Lewis County
• White River At R Street Bridge affecting King and Pierce Counties
11:55 a.m. Friday update:
Thurston County Sheriff's Office Shares Photos of Nisqually Flooding and a Message for residents
"TCSO continues to assist with flooding in the Nisqually Valley and areas around the Nisqually River. Remember to not drive or walk through flood waters. Several areas will remain flooded today and into the weekend. Here are a few pictures from yesterday and overnight. Be safe and help your neighbors and community members."
Pierce 23 Fire and Rescue Offers Evacuation Assistance:
"Mt Rainier National Park, in coordination with Pierce County Fire District 23, and Pierce County Emergency Management, is offering a one-time evacuation to assist the people east of the slide on Hwy 706. The meeting place today will be at the Nisqually Entrance gate at 12:00 pm. for a convoy lead by park rangers. There is no guarantee of a return trip if weather and road conditions change. However, a return trip back to your affected area may be offered pending weather & road conditions at 4:00 pm. The meeting point area for the return trip, will be State Route 706 East and Kernahan Road. Do not be late! We will not be able to wait as we will travel as an escorted convoy back into the park to Longmire and then back to Nisqually Entrance. If the slide keeps Hwy 706 closed for an extended period of time, the park will evaluate offering a future convoy to those in the affected area. THERE IS NO VEHICLE ACCESS TO THE PARK TO THE PUBLIC."
5:45 p.m. update:
NVN Assistant Editor Eric Rosane spent Thursday traveling around flood-prone areas and speaking to residents about ongoing evacuations. Read his story at the link below:
3:55 p.m. update: City of Yelm Updates Residents on Flood Threat
The City of Yelm posted the following message: "There are no flooding issues in the City of Yelm. In Thurston County, the bridge over the Nisqually River near Reservation Road in the delta which leads to I-5 is still OPEN as of now. Water has reached some neighboring property owners and 6th Ave is closed. The bridge leading to and from McKenna in Pierce County is also OPEN at this time. Please share this post and stay connected with the facts of what’s happening by signing up for Thurston County’s emergency alert system at: www.smart911.com/s…/registration/registrationLanding.action… You can also sign up for this same alert system on the City’s webpage, www.yelmwa.gov."
2:30 p.m. update: Residents of Nisqually Delta Urged to Evacuate
OLYMPIA – Thurston County Emergency Management is urging residents — especially those living east of Durgin Road, Kuhlman Road, and Nisqually Cut-Off Road — to evacuate the area by 4 p.m. today due to expected flooding caused by an increase in the amount of water released from the LaGrande Dam. The peak height of the river is expected between 4 and 5 p.m. today. The evacuation advisory could last until Saturday, February 8.
A shelter has been established by the American Red Cross at the Gwinwood Camp and Conference Center (6015 30th Ave. SE Lacey, WA 98503) for those effected by the evacuation advisory. The shelter will open today at about 4 p.m. and is pet friendly and accessible for individuals with disabilities. Pets coming into the shelter must be crated and pet owners are encouraged to bring supplies such as food and water to care for them.
The impacts of this incident include possible road closures and structure flooding. Currently, 6th Ave SE & Riverside Dr. SE are closed due to water over the roadway. The Mckenna Bridge in Yelm is still open and there is no plan to close the bridge at this time. Information on road closures in the county are available at: https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/publicworks/travelImpacts.html.
The North Thurston School District has informed parents and guardians that they will not be dropping off students in the affected areas. Parents with students in the North Thurston School District who live in the affected areas must pick up their students from school.
This incident is fluid and additional information will be shared through the county’s social media channels as it becomes available. Residents are encouraged to follow Thurston County Emergency Management social media channels for regular updates:
Thurston County Sheriff’s Deputies are currently in the area going door-to-door to inform people of the evacuation advisory. Riverside residents of the Nisqually Pines are urged to keep a watchful eye on the river and be prepared to evacuate on short notice, but are not under an evacuation advisory at this time. Residents can monitor river levels at: www.thurstoncountywa.gov/em/pages/rivers-graphs.aspx.
County residents were notified of the evacuation advisory today at around 9:30 a.m. through the Thurston County Alert System. The notification stated that Tacoma Power will begin releasing 17,000 cubic ft. of water per second by 1:00 p.m. today from the LaGrande Dam to manage water levels due to significant water flow.
To receive critical countywide TCALERT messages like this, residents can sign-up at: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/em/Pages/ei-alert.aspx.
For more information on preparedness and having a grab and go kit, visit: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/em/Pages/prep-personal.aspx. Don’t forget to prepare to take your household pets with you.
2 p.m. update:
Thurston County Emergency Management has shot down rumors of the McKenna Bridge closing.
"Rumor Control — there is no intention to close the McKenna bridge on Hwy 507. For official information, please monitor official channels such as ThurstonEM, WSDOT, Pierce County EM, etc."
Pierce County Sheriff's Department advises on landslides:
"There are multiple reports of landslides blocking roadways throughout the Foothills area:
• State Route 410 at Milepost 40 and Milepost 49 in Greenwater
• Fairfax Forest Reserve Road E. by the Carbon River Ranger Station in Carbonado
• State Route 706 by Kernahan Road E. in Ashford
Crews are working hard to clear the roadways of mud and debris, drivers should expect delays and use alternate routes if possible."
1:50 p.m. update:
These notices have been distributed to residents living along the Nisqually Delta:
1:40 p.m. update:
Here's the latest look at river predictions:
From earlier reporting: "Tacoma Power was expected to increase the flow from the dam to 17,000 cubic feet per second by 1 p.m. Thursday, according to a notice issued by Thurston County Emergency Management, prompting the call for residents around Nisqually Cut Off Road SE to evacuate the area by 4 p.m."
Here's a quick interview with 74-year-old Dennis Lohrengel on Sixth Avenue off of Old Pacific Highway SE in the Nisqually area:
1:20 p.m. update: The City of Yelm posted the following message for residents:
There is no immediate risk of flooding in the City of Yelm. Although the LaGrand Dam has increased flow in the Nisqually River to a projected 17,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), this volume does not threaten any properties in the City limits or the bridge where SR 507 crosses the Nisqually River. There are some evacuations being ordered for riverfront properties in Thurston County down in the Nisqually Valley, but not in city limits. We are monitoring the situation and working with Thurston County Emergency Management to provide information and assistance as needed.
Yelm Community Schools is letting students go home an hour early today in order to stay ahead of rising water that might impact some roads in rural areas and people who live in Thurston County, but again, there is no perceived danger to the 507 bridge. 17,000cfs is a lot of water, but by comparison, the flood of 1996 was caused by a flow of 48,000cfs. There is no indication that we will see flows anywhere near that from this weather event.
More information will be communicated as it becomes available. The best way to be alerted to emergency situations is to sign up with the County’s emergency alert system at www.smart911.com/s…/registration/registrationLanding.action… Or go to the City’s webpage and sign up at there as well, www.yelmwa.gov Meanwhile, stay safe and stay dry.
1 p.m. update:
Here's a look at the McKenna Bridge and the McKenna Park Boat Launch at about 1 p.m.
12:45 p.m. update:
From Mount Rainier National Park:
"A slide has blocked SR706 in both directions, at milepost 10.18 near Kernahan Rd E. & there are also areas of standing water. The Nisqually Entrance to the park is affected by this closure."
11:20 a.m. update: Yelm Community Schools will be closing an hour early. Below is a message from the school district:
"The Nisqually River is at flood stage and the LaGrande Dam is releasing additional water. Due to potential flooding, we will be releasing all schools one hour early. PM preschool is cancelled. Yelm High School will release at 1:00pm, Yelm and Ridgeline Middle Schools will also release at 1:00pm. McKenna and Lackamas will release at 1:55pm. Southworth and Prairie will release at 2:05pm. Mill Pond and Fort Stevens will release at 2:45pm. All after school activities, sports, professional development and School Board Meeting are cancelled. Girls and Boys High School Basketball is canceled. Parents, please communicate with your school directly if you have transportation concerns. We appreciate your patience as we transport all students home safely."
11:15 a.m. update: Updated river gauge readings for the Nisqually River reflect even higher water levels than previously forecast. You can keep an eye on river levels and predictions here: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=sew&gage=mknw1
11 a.m. update: From the Thurston County Sheriff's Office: "Nisqually River flooding is expected to continue throughout the day. County Roads advised that roads in the Nisqually Valley on 6th Ave SE have already been closed due to water over the roadway. Please stay tuned for additional information regarding flooding and be prepared to evacuate areas near the Nisqually River. Water levels are expected to increase this afternoon and will result in flooding."
10:20 a.m. update: Evacuations are being urged in some areas as the Nisqually River is expected to rise substantially following a decision by Tacoma Power to increase the flow from the LaGrande Dam in light of continued heavy rainfall.
“Residents of the Nisqually Pines advised to be ready to evacuate as short notice if needed, and residents of Nisqually Delta, especially east of Durgin and Nisqually Cutoff urged to evacuate by 1600,” a Thurston County Alert notice said Thursday morning.
Tacoma Power was expected to increase the flow from the dam to 17,000 cubic feet per second by 1 p.m. Thursday, according to a notice issued by Thurston County Emergency Management, prompting the call for residents around Nisqually Cut Off Road SE to evacuate the area by 4 p.m.
“The emergency coordination center is at a level 2 activation right now and they’re working with the Red Cross to find shelter options. We don’t know what those shelter options are right now, but once we do they’ll be provided,” said Thurston County spokesperson Bryan Dominique.
The Nisqually River is currently at minor flood stage at 10.19 feet. The notices for evacuation were posted around 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Residents of the Nisqually Pines are advised to be ready to be read to evacuate on short notice if needed.
A flood warning has been issued for the Nisqually River at McKenna by the National Weather Service. The warning went into effect Thursday morning and is currently set to last through Saturday afternoon.
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.