Northwest floods close roads, stall commerce
CENTRALIA, Wash. - Floods, mudslides and avalanches in the Pacific Northwest kept tens of thousands of people from their homes Thursday, brought freight trains to a standstill and stranded hundreds of trucks along interstates 5 and 90, which link Seattle's busy ports with markets around the country.
The flooding — some of the worst on record in Washington state — was touched off by a combination of heavy rain of 6 inches or more and a warm spell in the 50s that rapidly melted the snow in the Cascade Mountains.
A 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5, the state's major north-south freeway, was shut down between Olympia and the Oregon line, with one section area under 3 feet of water.
"You can't go north, you can't go east, you can't go south. What are my options?" said Jon Amerman, a trucker from White Hall, Mont., who had planned to head east to Yakima to pick up apples after delivering a load of goods to Seattle. Instead, he pulled over to the side, and figured his company was losing more than $1,000 a day every day that he was idle.
Because of the closed highways, a truck traveling north from Portland, Ore., to Seattle — normally a journey of about 175 miles — would need to take a 440-mile detour. Ten thousand trucks travel I-5 each day, and an additional 7,000 move freight across the Cascades.
Pretty severe storm. I almost couldn't get out of Renton today because both ways through Issaquah were a mess-- one was clogged with traffic and the other way was closed off but we went through it anyway. Talk about gushing water! I'll have to try to take pictures of Issaquah-Hobart Road. Crazy.