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Originally published November 5, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 5, 2006 at 9:01 PM

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Flood watch declared for most of western Washington

An incoming storm will pour enough rain down in Western Washington to cause a series of rivers to flood on Monday, weather forecasters say.

Seattle Times staff an wire reports

An incoming storm will pour enough rain down in Western Washington to cause a series of rivers to flood on Monday, weather forecasters say.

Over a 24-hour period beginning tonight, National Weather Service forecasters expect about 6 to 9 inches of rain to fall in the Cascades, and 2 to 3 inches of rain in the Seattle metro area.

That could cause roads in the cities to fill up with water, as well, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dana Felton.

"Even the rains yesterday, combined with the leaves, created a lot of problems in the streets," said Felton. "You could see a lot of clogged drains. There wasn't much time for people to get out and clean those leaves off between systems."

Today, flooding from the Snoqualmie River has closed the Snoqualmie River Road near Carnation, from Tolt Hill Road to S.E. 24th Street. S.E. 24th Street is closed from 309th Ave. S.E. to the Snoqualmie River Road.

A flood watch has been declared for all Western Washington counties except for San Juan County. Flood warnings with more specific information will likely be issued by early Monday.

Heavy rain Saturday pushed the Skokomish River above flood stage at the small community of Potlatch on the west side of Puget Sound on Hood Canal, the National Weather Service reported.

The rain had stopped by 8 p.m., said forecaster Andy Haner. Flood warnings with more specific information will likely be issued by early Monday.

The agency tries to issue flood watches about 36 hours in advance of expected flooding. In this case, Haner said, the watches issued at midday Saturday were intended "to raise people's awareness of 'the big event' coming Sunday and Monday."

The weather service urged people not to drive vehicles into flooded areas. "This is the cause of most flood-related deaths in Washington," the agency said.

The weather system, dubbed the "Pineapple Express," is coming in from the southwest — from the tropical regions of the central and western Pacific — and bringing mild temperatures, in the 50s Saturday evening and possibly into the 60s Monday, Haner said.

The deluge could drive many Western Washington rivers above flood stage, a process that usually follows heavy rain by 24 hours, he said — a forecast that could mean lowland flooding on Election Day.

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Flood stage on the Skokomish was 16 feet, and the river was at 16.5 feet at 9 p.m. Saturday.

East of Seattle, the Snoqualmie River was expected to crest early today. Widespread flooding of low-lying roads and pastures was expected between Fall City and the town of Snoqualmie, the agency said.

To the north, 3 inches of rain Saturday at Marblemount was expected to push the Skagit River above more than a foot above flood stage at Concrete early Sunday, affecting roads between Rockport and Sedro-Woolley. The Skagit was expected to crest by mid-morning and subside by Sunday afternoon.

If the rainfall forecast for the next few days occurs — and Haner says there's not much doubt — the Skagit River at Concrete, about 80 miles north of Seattle, is expected to crest at 10 feet above flood stage.

Snoqualmie River flooding could swamp lowland homes in the bedroom communities of Monroe and Carnation, north and east of Seattle. The Snohomish River could cause problems in the town of Snohomish, near Everett about 30 miles north of Seattle.

The Chehalis River basin south of Seattle could also be hit hard, Haner said. Flood stage for the Stillaguamish River near Arlington, about 60 miles north of Seattle, has been lowered because of a rain-driven mudslide near Oso last winter. Technically flood stage is 13 feet, but a water level of just 8.4 feet could cause problems this season, Haner said.

Seattle Times newsroom: 206-464-2204 or newstips@seattletimes.com

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