Atmospheric River to Bring More Rain, Flooding Risks to the Region

Date: 2021-10-27 04:03:34

By Daniel Warn /

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a flood warning this week for Thurston and Pierce counties, along with nine other counties in the region.

The warning was issued because an atmospheric river was forecast to impact western Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 27 and Thursday, Oct. 28, bringing additional rainfall and high level snow to the area following another weather event that occurred earlier in the week.

“Area rivers are expected to respond with sharp rises,” stated a hydrologic outlook released on Tuesday, Oct. 26. “Minor river flooding is possible for a few rivers by Thursday night or Friday.”

On Tuesday, Kirby Cook, a meteorologist with the NWS said the weather service expected the atmospheric river pattern to start late on Wednesday, Oct. 27, and last throughout the day on Thursday, Oct. 28.

“It will definitely produce rises on area rivers and add to the soil saturation that’s already in place, so there’s a heightened expectation for potential river flooding,” Cook said. “But right now we’re not forecasting any river points currently to exceed the flood stage, but it is something that we’re watching.”

He said the heaviest precipitation will occur in the Olympics and the central-to-north Washington Cascades. Since the Nisqually River is located more to the south of the Cascades, Cook said the weather service did not expect Yelm to get as much precipitation as the other regions, Cook said.

“That’s the current forecast, and as you know it can change, but we are monitoring it,” he said. “We have an outlook for flood conditions over, essentially, the entire area to cover this (event) and we’ll update that as our confidence gets higher.”

Cook said NWS will monitor all areas given the heavy rainfall that is expected, but said the Nisqually region would likely escape the worst of it.

Cook noted that neighboring Mason County, on the other hand, is already experiencing flooding.

“Currently, the only river that is experiencing flood conditions is the Skokomish River, which flows off the southeast slope of the Olympics in Mason County, mostly resulting from all the precipitation this fall,” he said on Tuesday.

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