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Record rainfall, flooding batters Pacific Northwest

Dec 07, 2023

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An atmospheric river sweeps across the Pacific Northwest, inundating communities with heavy rain, floods, and record-breaking warmth. Rail travel has been paused as Amtrak suspends Seattle-Portland services due to potential landslides and flood warnings prompt road closures across Washington.

Swift snowmelt in the mountains, combined with atmospheric rivers carrying mild air from the tropics, intensified the flooding. This resulted in a sudden influx of meltwater into rivers and creeks, causing significant flooding of low-lying areas.

According to The Associated Press, the small town of Forks saw its rainfall record more than double after it received about 3.8 inches of rain on Monday, Dec. 4. By Tuesday morning, it had recorded 4.7 inches of rain over 24 hours — more rainfall than Las Vegas has received in all of 2023.

In southwest Washington near Rosburg, the Coast Guard successfully rescued five people from flooding in response to a request from the Cathlament Fire Department. Using an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, the aircrew executed a daring hoist, rescuing four individuals trapped in a flooded house and another stranded on a truck in floodwaters. 

All five were transported to Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, where they received medical attention, and are reported to be in stable condition.

Seattle also set a new rainfall record for Monday with 1.5 inches, according to Kirby Cook, a 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, Cook said.

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