The Nisqually Valley experienced minor widespread flooding of streams and creeks between Thursday, Jan. 6 and Friday, Jan. 7, which spilled over into hay fields and across roadways in the region.
Mary Butwin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Seattle, called the weather events “typical” for winter, but said the rain became a problem when considering the addition of other factors.
“We had a frontal system that moved through the (Nisqually Valley), a pretty good dose of rain, and that — on top of the snow melt from the snow that had been lingering around the last couple of weeks — produced a lot of water that ended up going into a lot of the rivers, so we did have some flooding throughout the area,” Butwin said.
She said a frontal system is usually a warm front and a cold front that’s associated with an area of low pressure.
“(That’s) what generally brings in our weather for Western Washington, our frequent widespread rain or snow in the mountains,” Butwin said.
In all, the Nisqually Valley received 3 to 4 inches of rainfall between Jan. 6 and Jan. 7.
The Nisqually River, however, did not flood. It crested at a little above 7 feet, well below the 10 feet required for the river to be considered at flood stage.
“We go off of the river gages, which are point locations,” Butwin said. “We do know that a lot of the small creeks did flood. There’s just no way to quantify by how much.”
Regionally, Centralia and Chehalis had multiple rivers above flood stage, including the Chehalis and Skookumchuck rivers adjacent to Interstate 5.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Blog reported an I-5 closure between mileposts 68 and 88 at 7:45 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 7. By 12:56 p.m. the same day, the blog reported the interstate had reopened.
As of Monday, Jan. 10, a front was moving through the Nisqually Valley, which included rain showers throughout the day.
Another dose of widespread rain was set to hit the region between Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, Butwin said on Monday. By Thursday, Jan. 13 and Friday, Jan. 14, the area was forecasted to dry out considerably, with scattered rain showers.
For up-to-date weather forecasting, the National Weather Service Seattle office can be reached at 206-526-6087. The WSDOT Blog can be found online at wsdotblog.blogspot.com.
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