Heavy rains potentially bring flooding to Washington

Austin Lampky, Staff Writer


The wettest January on record in Olympia brought 19.84 inches of precipitation in 1953,” National Weather Service Meteorologist, Dustin Guy, told The Olympian. “We’re not on track to surpass that. But second place? That’s within reach.”

Recent rainfalls stand just a little over an inch under Wash.’s rainfall measures in 2006, where 15.68 inches of rain stands as second place in the same record. As cited in the report, Guy presumed 2020 could shake up those standings slightly, with this year reaching second place. 

After experiencing consistent and heavy rainfall during recent weeks, several counties in Wash. are on alert for new rainfall and potential flooding. According to The Olympian, the National Weather Service has released warnings not only in Thurston County, but also in Lewis, Pierce, Mason, King, Snohomish, Grays Harbor, and five others counties. 

Olympia has certainly received a deluge of rain, as The Olympian described in their article. “In the last 45 days, Olympia has experienced only three days without measurable rainfall,” said Guy. 

Guy proposed Olympia could be hit with even more rain between Thursday and Saturday night. According to his estimates from weather forecasts, that would be “two to three inches of rain.”

Statistics presented in the report go up until Wednesday, Jan. 29. At that point, Olympia was soaked under a cumulative 14.37 inches of rain. The Olympian acknowledged that number currently stands at fifth place for the state’s heaviest January rainfalls on record. 

Potential flooding in Wash. has been a concern since early January, when the heavy rains began. The Olympian started coverage of the inclement weather and its potential consequences on Jan. 7, when two rivers in Thurston County posed a concern for the local population. 

Both the Chehalis River and the Skookumchuck River were being monitored for potential flooding, where – as the report describes – “could mean flooding of residential and business areas around Bucoda and Independence Valley.” 

The flood warnings even concerned three school districts enough that one closed, another rerouted buses to flood-safe areas, and the third began operations two hours later than usual. 

The most recent of reports from The Olympian mention that the Tacoma Power agency is very aware of the situation, since it has access to the LaGrande Dam at Nisqually River. 

“Normally the average flow of the dam is one thousand and two hundred cubic feet per second (CFS) and oscillates from season to season,” Thurston County Emergency Services Director, Kurt Hardin, told The Olympian. Now that number, even with some fluctuations, has increased to 6,000 and 200 CFS. As described in the report, upon reaching 6,000 CFS, a report must be sent to Thurston County Emergency Services.

For those concerned with flood safety, the Wash. State Department of Health has several procedure sheets available for public viewing, should the situation get to that point. Such steps include what a person can do before, during, and after a flood occurs in order to stay safe. 

Updates about the situation are being sent out from Thurston County Emergency Management, as the flood report from The Olympian details. Wash. residents can get alerts from experts sent directly to their phone, should the present conditions escalate into seriously dangerous situations. 


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