Flooding, Wind Causes Outages and Road Closures; Rivers Expected to Crest Wednesday Afternoon

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Flooding, strong winds and at least one landslide in the region are causing several road closures and power outages.

Lewis County Emergency Management said Wednesday morning that the biggest flood concern is the Cowlitz River at Randle as well as the Chehalis River near Doty, although earlier predictions of river levels seemed to have overestimated how high levels would get. As of Wednesday morning, according to the county’s river gauges, the Cowlitz River is in phase 4, a category conferring major road closures and residential flooding. The Newaukum River near Chehalis is in phase 2.

Forty-nine mile per hour winds late Tuesday night downed trees and branches and led to 2,000 Centralia customers losing power, although by morning most power had been restored.

“We have a good tree-trimming program, but that 49 miles per hour exceeds our threshold of when we’re going to start having problems no matter what,” City Light General Manager M.L. Norton said Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, there were still several outages across the county.

Wednesday morning at around 1 a.m., the Washington State Department of Transportation had to clear debris blocking Interstate 5 southbound near Exit 59. Last week’s flooding led to a minor landslide in Napavine on Rush Road within city limits, which got bigger this week, closing part of the road, according to Emergency Management. The county continues to warn that saturated land could lead to mudslides and landslides even after the threat of flooding subsides.

As of Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service’s flood warning for the region is still in effect. River levels are expected to crest Wednesday afternoon — the Cowlitz River at around 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. — although some are already receding. According to the National Weather Service, the region saw the bulk of the rain Monday and Tuesday, with lower regions receiving 2-3 inches and higher terrain receiving up to 5.24 inches. Wednesday is supposed to have only light showers, with a dry period opening up Thursday. Thursday night into Friday will see another wet period, although precipitation levels are predicted to be minimal, with no major flooding threats.

The County reactivated its Emergency Operations center Tuesday morning, triggering a reopening of the sandbag station at the Law and Justice Center in Chehalis from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and sand has been refilled in Centralia at the corner of West Maple and North Pearl streets.

Emergency Management is encouraging residents to sign up for Lewis County Alert here: https://lewiscountywa.gov/departments/emergency-management/lewis-county-alert/

Road closures throughout the county can be monitored here: https://roads.lewiscountywa.gov/

Information on power outages can be found here: http://outagemaps.lcpud.org:8089/OMSWebMap/OMSWebMap.htm?clientKey=undefined

Residents can monitor local levels at rivers.lewiscountywa.gov and at https://bit.ly/38TE2bz.

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