Heavy rain and associated flooding closed South Bend School District on Jan. 7 and created a variety of other inconveniences in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.
More than 9 inches of rain was recorded at the Naselle Salmon Hatchery in the first six days of 2020, with about half that much on the peninsula. Totals in the high country of the Willapa Hills are believed to exceed a foot, leading to substantial rises in streamflow throughout the Willapa watershed.
Rivers that overflowed their banks included some usual suspects: the Willapa and Naselle in Pacific County and the Grays River in Wahkiakum.
Numerous low-lying fields were inundated around Naselle, both by runoff and by tidal overflow from a 10.5-foot king tide Tuesday morning. Plus-9 tides are expected Jan. 11 and 12.
The Grays River near Rosburg crested at 15.6 feet at 10 p.m. Jan. 6 and remained at 15 feet at midday Jan. 7. The Grays is considered to be flooding whenever it rises above 12 feet. At 15 feet, many county roads are out of commission. Water covered State Route 4 between mileposts 13 and 14 on Jan. 7, but the highway remained open. The river is expected to fall below flood stage on Jan. 8.
In Pacific County on Jan. 7, water was over U.S. Highway 101’s northbound lane at milepost 57.8, with motorists advised to take caution. Downtown Raymond often experiences street flooding from high winter tides.
In South Bend, school was cancelled Tuesday after flooding impacted the facility’s plumbing.
Elsewhere in North Pacific County, a clogged culvert on Camp One Road again cut off access to Tombstone Willey’s Bar east of Raymond. The popular local hangout announced it was permanently closing after damage from a soaker-storm in December surrounded the bar with upwards of 4 feet of water. While the interior looked like it skimped by unaffected, other damage became too much.
According to Catrina Mathis, former Tombstones Bar manager speaking on behalf of the owners, the heavy rains and water destroyed a compressor for the cooler. The water also damaged a newly installed heat pump for the building.
Adding to the heartache was the fact the owners did not have flood insurance and have been left with few options to repair the damage.
Looking ahead, forecasts call for rain of varying intensities throughout the week, with the possibility of additional heavy rain and wind on Friday. There is a prospect for sharply colder weather this weekend, as the jet stream loops to our south, allowing Arctic air to flood across Washington. At this time, the snow level in coastal Pacific County is expected to stay above 1,800 feet through the weekend. Heavy snow is forecast in the Cascades and elsewhere around the state.
—Jeff Clemens contributed to this report.