BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Heavy rainfall in Washington state caused flooding Monday that forced school closures and evacuation warnings as storms with high winds pounded the Pacific Northwest.
The National Weather Service warned that winds nearing hurricane strength were possible in the region that has seen nearly ceaseless rain for about a week. A gust of 58 mph was reported Monday at Sea-Tac International Airport.
About 25,0000 customers were without power in western Washington. As least one person is missing.
A state of emergency for the town of Hamilton was declared over the weekend by the Skagit County Unified Command. People living in the Hamilton area, about 80 miles northeast of Seattle, were urged to evacuate as soon as possible, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.
As the water makes its way down the Skagit River, people were warned to expect flooding in Sedro-Woolley, Burlington and Mount Vernon.
The Red Cross began operating an evacuation shelter out of the Baptist Church in Hamilton at 5 p.m. Sunday. Blankets, cots, prepackaged meals and snacks were provided while supplies last.
Just south of the Canadian border in Sumas, Washington, heavy flooding was reported.
“At this point in time there is no reasonably safe way to drive to Bellingham without putting yourself or others at risk. Please do not drive through standing or rushing water,” the city’s police department said via Twitter.
All schools in the Bellingham, Washington, district were closed Monday because of dangerous travel conditions. A mudslide briefly closed a portion of northbound Interstate 5 through Bellingham on Monday morning.
Emergency officials also warned that people should expect to see water in low-lying roadways and should remember to turn around rather than drive through water on the road. That water can be moving swiftly and be deeper than it seems, posing serious risk to people in vehicles.
Forecasters say conditions should improve by Tuesday after parts of the region have seen more than 6 inches of rain in the past several days.
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