In a state of readiness, western Washington braces itself for a potential flood forecasted by the National Weather Service (NWS), a constituent of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The looming threat, triggered by an atmospheric river, is expected to inundate the region with heavy rainfall, which, coupled with rising snow levels, could engender rapidly rising rivers by late Monday night or Tuesday.
Atmospheric Rivers and their Impact
Atmospheric rivers, substantial swaths of water vapor originating from tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean, can extend for thousands of miles and bring extensive rain and snowfall. This week, these rivers are anticipated to continue their deluge on the Pacific Northwest, leading to a flood watch that will extend until Wednesday afternoon. The rain amounts through Sunday afternoon alone are expected to range from 1-3 inches along the south Washington and north Oregon coast, with up to 2 to 5 inches over the Coast Range and Willapa Hills.
Flood Watch Across Counties
The flood watch extends across several counties including King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Lewis, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom. It is estimated that rainfall amounts of seven to 10 inches are expected over the Olympics, five to nine inches over the Cascades, three to five inches along the coast and 1.5 to 3 inches over the interior lowlands.
NOAA's Flood Education Initiative
The NWS, through NOAA's dedicated website, is emphasizing the importance of preparedness for such flooding events. The comprehensive resources on the website include an interactive flood map, details on different types of flooding, educational material, and access to alerts and warnings issued by the NWS. The service also encourages people to read flood survivor stories and share their own experiences to help educate others about the dangers of flooding. This public education initiative is aimed at increasing individual chances of survival and protecting property by informing people about what to do before, during, and after a flood, including specific advice for drivers encountering flooded roads.