USA – Storms and Floods Prompt Emergency Declarations in Washington and Oregon

Storms and heavy rain in the North West of USA have prompted the governors of Washington and Oregon states to declare emergencies.

Flooding has closed roads and led to evacuations in both states. Residents trapped in homes in remote areas of Umatilla County were evacuated by Oregon Army National Guard helicopter.

Flooding closed the Interstate 84 in Oregon. Some vehicles were left stranded. Photo: Oregon State Police


Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued emergency proclamation for 20 counties due to flooding and winter weather.

“The effects of this severe winter storm event continue to impact the life, health and property of individuals in this state, as well as the property and infrastructure of Washington state, and is a public disaster that affects the life, health, property or the public peace,” Inslee said in the proclamation.

The Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division continues to monitor and coordinate response activities. The proclamation directs state agencies to utilize state resources to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected communities. It also allows the state to apply for federal Department of Transportation funds to help permanently repair roadways. Road damage caused by recent snow is estimated at more than $3 million.

Severe flooding was reported in the Orting areas after the Puyallup River overflowed.

Residents in the Nisqually Delta area of Thurston County were urged to evacuate after Tacoma Power advised they will be increasing the water flow from the LaGrande Dam.

Evacuation orders were also issued for parts of Walla Walla County.

NWS Seattle issued a flood warning for the Snohomish River near Monroe. As of 08 February the river stood at 16.28 feet, where major flood stage is 17 feet.

Some areas recorded more than 6 inches / 150mm of rain in 72 hours to 07 February.

The counties included in the emergency proclamation are: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Whatcom and Walla Walla Counties.

Earlier this week authorities closed a border crossing with Canada after flooding left roads impassable in areas around the town of Sumas, Washington.

Rainfall in Washington State for a 72 hour period to 07 Feb 2020. Image: NWS Seattle


Snohomish River near Monroe reached flood stage on 07 February 2020. Image: NWS / NOAA


Meanwhile in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties due to severe flooding, increased snowmelt, landslides, and erosion.

“Fast-moving, severe floods have required the evacuation of residences and shut down critical roads in northeastern Oregon. I am grateful for all of our first responders for their efforts to keep our families safe since the waters began rising,” Governor Brown said. “This emergency declaration ensures state resources, emergency response personnel, and equipment can be activated to complement critical local resources as this situation progresses.”

Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reported on 07 February that “moderate to major flooding continues on the Umatilla and Walla Walla rivers with flooding on multiple creeks and streams. While flooding should improve into the weekend, additional rains over the mountains may slow the recession of flood waters.”

Oregon Army National Guard used a helicopter to help evacuate residents stranded by rising floodwaters in remote areas of Umatilla County.

The overflowing Umatilla river caused flooding in Pendleton, prompting roads closures and evacuations. OEM said around 14 people were staying in a shelter for impacted residents.

On 06 February the Umatilla at Pendleton reached 19.18 feet, well above major flood stage of 17 feet.

Oregon Department of Transportation said roads were closed or had detours in at least 7 locations, including the Interstate 84 near the city of Echo, Umatilla County.

Umatilla River caused flooding near Pendleton from 06 February 2020. Image: NWS / NOAA

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