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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Feb. 27, 2024

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Atmospheric river soaks Pacific Northwest with record-breaking rain and warm winter temperatures

The Columbian
Published:
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Bernie Crouse wades through water outside his home after the nearby South Fork Stillaguamish River crested early in the morning flooding several houses in this neighborhood, Dec. 5, 2023,  in the Arlington area of Seattle, Washington. Crouse got his dog Max out of the basement as it began flooding, after getting a call from another neighbor.
Bernie Crouse wades through water outside his home after the nearby South Fork Stillaguamish River crested early in the morning flooding several houses in this neighborhood, Dec. 5, 2023, in the Arlington area of Seattle, Washington. Crouse got his dog Max out of the basement as it began flooding, after getting a call from another neighbor. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times via AP) Photo Gallery

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An atmospheric river has brought heavy rain, flooding and warm winter temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, closing rail links, schools and roads as it shattered daily rainfall and temperature records in Washington state.

Amtrak said Tuesday that no passenger trains will be running between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, until Thursday because of a landslide. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings in parts of western Washington, including in areas north and east of Seattle and across a large swath of the Olympic Peninsula.

The wet conditions also brought warm temperatures to the region. At 64 in Walla Walla in southwestern Washington, it was as warm as parts of Florida and Mexico, according to the NWS. Seattle reported 59 degrees at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, breaking its previous daily record high, the weather service said.

Atmospheric rivers, sometimes known as a “Pineapple Express” because the long and narrow bands of water vapor convey warm subtropical moisture across the Pacific from near Hawaii, delivered enormous amounts of rain and snow to California last winter.

On the Olympic Peninsula, the small town of Forks — whose claim to fame is being the rainiest town in the contiguous U.S. — saw its rainfall record for Dec. 4 more than double after it received about 3.8 inches of rain, the NWS said. By early Tuesday morning, it had recorded 4.7 inches f rain over 24 hours — more rainfall than Las Vegas has received in all of 2023, according to the agency.

About 100 miles further south, daily rainfall records were also broken in Hoquiam, which received about 2.6 inches of rain on Monday, the NWS said. Seattle saw its daily rainfall record surpassed on Monday after receiving 1.5 inches of rain, said Kirby Cook, science and operations officer at the NWS office in Seattle.

“We’ll continue to see significant impacts, especially with river crests and rises on area rivers” through Wednesday morning, he said.

A section of Washington State Route 106 was closed as rising water levels in the Skokomish River overflowed onto the roadway, state transportation officials said.

The NWS said it expected to see precipitation and temperatures climb to record-breaking heights in western Washington on Tuesday.

A landslide closed parts of a Seattle trail popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists, the city’s parks department said. Crews were assessing the damage to the Burke-Gilman Trail and working on setting up detour routes.

Heavy rains also battered Oregon. Parts of coastal U.S. Highway 101 were closed because of flooding, including in areas around Seaside and at the junctions with U.S. Route 26 and Oregon Route 6, the state’s transportation department said.

At least three school districts along the Oregon coast shuttered for the day because of flooding and road closures.

Officials have urged drivers to use caution, avoid deep water on roadways and expect delays.

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