Days and days of heavy rain — and a lightning-infused, windy deluge early Wednesday morning — has caused local rivers to swell and low-lying roads to flood in Thurston County.
Flood warnings were issued for four local rivers — the Deschutes, Nisqually, Chehalis and Skookumchuck — and Thurston County Emergency Management has been tracking water levels. Several roads in the county, including a portion of State Route 507 near Bucoda, were closed Wednesday.
Other roads closed included Tilley Road at the 15000 block, Moon Road between 188th and 183rd avenues, Independence Road Southwest between James Road and Michigan Hill Road, and 12th Avenue Northeast near the intersection with South Bay Road.
Transportation officials closed a 45-mile stretch of U.S. Route 12 after rains washed out a portion of the road west of White Pass.
Lacey Fire District 3 crews responded to a few storm-related incidents Wednesday morning, including a large tree that fell on a house on Arbor Drive. The residents were able to evacuate without injury.
Puget Sound Energy in Washington reported more than 70,000 power outages early Wednesday, causing several school districts in the region to either close or start late. And as of 4 p.m., 18,250 Puget Sound Energy customers in Washington state still were without electricity.
Even though the skies were clear for much of Wednesday, the window for flooding will continue through the night, said Vivian Eason, a county emergency management coordinator.
“We’ll be watching, even though the rains have stopped for now,” Eason said.
Andy Haner, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle, said every major river in western Washington has reached or will reach a minor flood stage over the next few days.
“This is a pretty significant flood event,” he said, due to what the service is calling a parade of storms.
While the Deschutes River crested on Tuesday night, and water levels are expected only to go down, moderate to major flooding is expected for the Chehalis and Skookumchuck rivers.
The Skookumchuck was expected to crest in Bucoda at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Eason said. A moderate flood warning was issued.
So far, flooding in the area hasn’t affected businesses or homes within city limits, said Bucoda Fire Chief Jim Fowler. “If something were to happen, we would be on hand to help,” Fowler said.
A major flood warning was issued for the Chehalis River, which is expected to crest near Grand Mound at 4 a.m. Thursday, Eason said. Typically, fields in the area flood.
She said officials are expecting flood levels to hit 17 feet. The record of 20 feet was set during a 2007 storm.
“The Chehalis is really slow to rise and really slow to recede,” Eason said. “So what you see is that it crests quite a bit later than the other rivers.”
Minimal flooding is expected for the Nisqually River as water is let through the LaGrand Dam. Flooding is expected mainly in fields, Eason said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Thurston County Emergency Management hadn’t received any requests for shelter made by local residents affected by flooding.
Other parts of the region were hit harder than Thurston County.
Seven people were swept into the Puyallup River from a riverbank homeless camp Wednesday morning.
Someone called 911 around 6:30 a.m. to report that people were in the river up to their waists and chests beneath the State Route 512 overpass. All were pulled out of the river by Central Pierce Fire & Rescue by 8 a.m.
Nearby, a small RV park was evacuated Wednesday morning as floodwaters stranded several vehicles. Firefighters went vehicle-to-vehicle to check on occupants and some people were evacuated by boat. The camp was a temporary home for several dozen RVs and camper-trailers.
A large Douglas fir tree crashed into a Portland home early Wednesday, killing a 60-year-old woman who was in bed.
The tree, roughly 30 inches in diameter, was uprooted and sliced through the front corner of the house at about 3:30 a.m., pinning the woman underneath.
Stacia Glenn from The News Tribune and The Associated Press contributed to this report.