Atmospheric river unleashes flooding in Washington state

Heavy rains and atmospheric flooding in Washington State over the past few days has caused widespread power outages, displaced hundreds of people and inundated 14 counties with floodwater.

Washington State Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeVaccine mandates put unions in a bind Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Armadillo army takes over North Carolina town Washington redistricting commission fails, punts maps to Supreme Court MORE (D) declared a state of emergency on Nov. 15 as a severe storm moved into the Pacific Northwest on Nov. 12, bringing wind gusts above 60 mph and several inches of rainfall across the state.

"The severe storm with floods, landslides, mudslides, and the potential for straight-line winds is causing road closures, the need to establish alternate transportation routes, evacuations, impacts to local utility services including significant power outages, localized reductions in available drinking water, and damage to homes and other public and private property and infrastructure," the governor said in the proclamation.

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"These storms are causing hazardous conditions," he added. 

The 14 counties under the emergency order are: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Mason, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Whatcom.

Hundreds are evacuating homes and heading into shelters. Inslee has ordered the Washington National Guard to assist with evacuations and rescue efforts.

In Whatcom, more than 500 residents were reported displaced by the storm, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

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The Seattle Times reported more Tuesday morning than 49,000 residents in Western Washington were still without power, down from more than 150,000 on Monday. Major roads remain closed, because of flooding or mudslides, including Interstate 5 near Bellingham, which has only re-opened its southbound lanes.

The storm is expected to dissipate on Tuesday, but the National Weather Service in Seattle reported three rivers remain in a "major flood stage," including Bogachiel near La Plush, Nooksack at North Cedarville and the Skagit near Mt. Vernon, which just crested above 35 feet,  a near record level of flooding.