OLYMPIA, Wash. - Heavy rains and high winds are making it hard to get around parts of western Washington and northwest Oregon this afternoon. Flood watches and warnings are in effect across a wide area of the Northwest. At least half a dozen mudslides have blocked highways and rail lines since this morning .
The freight train of storms pummeling the Northwest has saturated soils. Some places are not getting enough time between downpours for the water to drain off. Oregon's Department of Geology put all of western Oregon on notice for increased potential of landslides.
In Washington state, chief hazards geologist Tim Walsh is testing a web-based landslide hazard alert system, now operative at a county-by-county level.
Flood waters buried E. Main Street and Brown Park in Gaston, Oregon Monday. Photo by Randy Hoodenpyl
"We have four storm seasons worth of validation data going into this," Walsh says. "We would certainly like to have a lot more than that before we have high confidence that it will be able to pin point areas of specific concern."
Walsh says homes and roads beneath steep slopes, near the mouths of canyons or downhill from this summer's wildfires are at risk in weather like this. If that describes you, it's a good idea to plan how to evacuate on short notice.
High water and rock slides are blocking Highway 101 in several places between Lincoln City and Astoria, Oregon. Mud and rockslides are also blocking lanes in Washington's Pacific County, Mason County and King County.
Mudslides have blocked the rails between Seattle and Everett in at least three places. A rock slide onto State Highway 31 in northeast Washington's Pend d'Oreille County earlier Monday has been cleared.
On the Web:
Washington landslide hazard map (beta) (Washington DNR)
In SW Washington's Pacific County, a state trooper's car was struck by a tree at the scene of a mudslide on SR 101 on Monday. An adjacent vehicle was also hit and both caught fire. Trooper and motorist okay. Photo courtesy Washington State Patrol
Current Washington landslides (Washington DNR)
Report a landslide in Washington (Washington DNR)
Oregon landslide hazards and tip sheets (Oregon Department of Geology)
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