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Flooding likely in Pacific Northwest Thanksgiving weekend

Rain totals could exceed 10 inches in some places

A series of atmospheric river events is forecast to impact portions of western Washington and British Columbia beginning Wednesday.


Related: CP to resume Vancouver rail service Tuesday


These storm systems will result in freezing levels rising above many mountaintops, leading to quick snow melt. Combined with heavy rain, this will increase runoff and river levels, leading to potential flooding and landslides.

The first system will impact the region Wednesday night, peak on Thursday and fade Friday. Rivers originating from the Olympics, as well as the central and northern Cascades, will need to be monitored for flooding.

The second system will impact the region Saturday through Saturday night, with similar rainfall amounts. Cumulative effects of back-to-back systems will need to be watched closely.

A third system could impact the region Monday night through Wednesday of next week.

Total rain amounts by Sunday night could reach 7 to 10 inches in parts of the Olympic Peninsula, northwestern Washington east of Interstate 5, including Bellingham, and portions of British Columbia, including Victoria. The third storm next week could increase totals to more than 12 inches in some places, especially from the Olympic Peninsula to far western British Columbia.

Areas under the gun have already been hit by destructive flooding recently, leading to roadblocks and disruptions in freight flows and supply chains. Truckers may run into closures on U.S. Highway 101 in addition to some portions of Interstates 5 and 90.


Related: CN to reopen route to Vancouver to limited traffic


CN (NYSE: CNI) and Canadian Pacific (NYSE:CP) railways may have to suspend service again, and problems could arise again at the Port of Vancouver.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 5 from Portland, Oregon, to Bellingham, Washington.
• U.S. Highway 101 from Astoria, Oregon, to Olympia, Washington.
• Trans-Canada Highway from Vancouver to Spuzzum.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.