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Atmospheric rivers soak Pacific Northwest

A flood wall blocks the rising Skagit River from flooding downtown Mount Vernon, Wash., on Tuesday. Associated Press/Photo by Elaine Thompson

Atmospheric rivers soak Pacific Northwest

Huge plumes of moisture, commonly called “atmospheric rivers,” rolled over Washington state and British Columbia on Monday after nearly a week of torrential rain and high winds. Meanwhile, melting snow worsened extensive flooding and mudslides. More than six inches of rain fell on the town of Sumas, Wash., on the Canadian border in a 24-hour period. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for 14 counties on Monday when winds neared 60 miles per hour. About 50,000 customers in Washington state and tens of thousands in British Columbia were without power as of Tuesday afternoon. The atmospheric river is slowly dissipating, but more storms are expected late Thursday.

What is the damage so far? All roads out of Sumas are closed or washed away, and city officials estimate at least 75 percent of homes have water damage. Whatcom County officials said this was the worst flooding for the region since 1990. Roughly 500 residents are in emergency shelters, KING-TV reported. Police are searching for a man in Bellingham, Wash., who was last seen clinging to a tree to escape floodwaters. 

Dig deeper: Read Lynde Langdon’s report in The Sift on an atmospheric river over California last month.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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