November 21, 2012 in City

Thanksgiving may be drier

Break from storms could be temporary
Doug Esser Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A resident looks out from a tent set atop wooden pallets in Nickelsville, a homeless encampment, where a day earlier a heavy rain and windstorm had partially flooded the camp in Seattle. A pump had drained much of the water by Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Mudslides stall trains

No Amtrak or commuter rail train will run between Seattle and Everett until 12:30 a.m. Thursday at the earliest.

SEATTLE – Northwest residents might be thankful for a brief break in the rainstorms, if the forecast for Thursday is correct.

“I would say about 90 percent of our models are showing Thanksgiving Day will really not be a bad day at all,” said forecaster Jay Albrecht at the National Weather Service office in Seattle. Skies should be mostly clear, and there might even be a patch of blue.

Rains bracketing the holiday could make travel difficult in places, especially for those driving over Cascade mountain passes where they may encounter snow. But it won’t be anything like Monday’s storm that dropped a record 2.13 inches of rain at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, flooded urban streets, knocked out power for 50,000 and killed a hunter on the Oregon coast when a tree blew down on his tent.

Portland police Officer Paul Meyer, who was hit by a falling tree while training on an all-terrain vehicle, was recovering but still in serious condition Tuesday at a Portland hospital. Utilities have restored power to most of the outages.

The severe weather is headed downstream.

“The big one has occurred already,” Albrecht said.

The Northwest is still in line for a series of Pacific frontal systems, but it’s back to typical November bluster.

“Just kind of showery and blustery conditions but not high winds or anything damaging,” he said. “This time of year you can’t complain about that.”

Floodwaters were receding Tuesday in most places. In southwest Washington, forecasters continued a flood warning for the Chehalis River into today in Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties, but only minor flooding was expected. The Lewis County sheriff’s office said Tuesday that high water had closed some roads.

More than 100 residents of Nickelsville, a Seattle homeless camp, were trying to stay dry with tents on pallets or other platforms. A pump was moving foot-deep water out of a low spot as more rain fell Tuesday.

Fifteen mudslides hit BNSF Railway tracks between Seattle and Everett during the storm. The largest early Tuesday at Everett covered 50 feet of track up to 15 feet deep with mud, rocks and trees, said spokesman Gus Melonas.

Freight trains have been running sporadically. No Amtrak or commuter rail train will run between Seattle and Everett until 12:30 a.m. Thursday at the earliest.

Heavy snow in the Washington Cascades is allowing some ski resorts to open in time for the holiday weekend. Stevens Pass opened Tuesday. Crystal Mountain and Mount Baker are opening today.

Northwest drivers should be accustomed to the expected wet roads and mountain snow. The unusual traffic problems could come from Black Friday shoppers.

Oregon State Police are advising Thursday night drivers on Interstate 5 between Portland and Salem to expect congestion at Woodburn with shoppers heading to the Woodburn Company Stores’ 24-hour Moonlight Madness sale. Last year, traffic backed up for several miles in both directions on Thanksgiving night.

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