PACIFIC COUNTY — Several straight days of significant rain and tidal overflow saturated Southwest Washington, leading to localized flooding and landslides.
More than half a foot of rain fell in parts of Pacific County over the past week, including more than 3½ inches in Long Beach on Monday, Jan. 11, according to figures from AgWeatherNet at Washington State University.
It marks the second significant storm of the winter season to bring substantial rain, strong winds and widespread flooding.
On Sunday, Jan. 10, the final set of the seasonal king tides started, leading to coastal flooding around tidal rivers. By Jan. 12, some residents, including many in Seaview, awoke to ponds forming in front yards and some side streets under more than a foot of standing water, the culmination of several inches of rain over the past week.
Heavy rainfall was forecast to continue through Jan. 13, when a brief drier spell is possible.
The Willapa River in Raymond was originally predicted to crest well below flood stage on Jan. 11, but that prediction has changed and it’s expected to crest over its minor flood stage at 21.66 feet on Jan. 12. The rise in water is also expected to flood U.S. Highway 101 near The Barge Restaurant in Raymond, a spot that often sees tidal overflow.
“I was just on the phone with the National Weather Service and we are still trying to figure out how bad it’s going to be,” Pacific County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott McDougall said on Jan. 12.
By 11 a.m., water was already approaching the roadway, resulting in the Washington State Department of Transportation to set up a warning sign to inform travelers of the lurking danger for high tide expected at 12:12 p.m. Likewise, farther up the river near Menlo, the water had already crested the banks of the Willapa River and was flooding farmland.
Anyone traveling through Raymond and South Bend is being encouraged to monitor developments and the possibility of the roadway being shutdown due to high water and dangerous conditions. It is also recommended for drivers to not attempt to drive through the water as the mixture of fresh and salt water can cause severe damage to their vehicles.
There are other flooded highways around the area and a significant landslide blocking one lane of US 101 in Grays Harbor County south of the Montesano cutoff. Before heading anywhere, check www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/default.aspx.