Heavy rains and gusty winds are in the forecast today, along with avalanche warnings in the mountains. The Weather Service issued a Flood Watch for much of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon, saying that between three and eight inches of rain could fall along the coast, the Coast Range, the Cascade foothills and the Cascades themselves. Inland valleys could get between one and three inches of rain out of this system. A Flood Watch is up until 10 pm tonight, as local rivers and streams begin to rise. The Grays River in Wahkiakum County is expected to approach flood stage later today or tonight; the Cowlitz River in Kelso is also rising, and is expected to top out at 20.3 feet early tomorrow morning. The “Action Stage” in Kelso is 19.5 feet, but the river is expected to crest below the Minor Flood Stage of 21.5 feet. Only minor flooding is expected out of this event.
Gusty winds are also expected out of this system, as this deep low pressure system moves by. Strong winds are expected later today, with sustained winds of 30 to 35 miles an hour and gusts of up to 50 miles an hour possible on the coast. In this area, southeasterly winds of 15 to 20 miles an hour are expected, with gusts of up to 35 miles an hour. Anything over 30 miles an hour reportedly has the power to topple trees and can cause power outages. High-profile rigs like RVs and semis may have some difficulty traveling in these winds.
The National Avalanche Center in Seattle is also out with an Avalanche Warning, covering much of the west slopes of the Cascades, all along the state. They expect this storm system to dump a lot of snow on the Cascades, raising the avalanche danger. The NAC “widespread avalanches” are expected, with the danger rated as “high” at all elevations. They say that backcountry travel is not recommended, due to the high danger level. The warning does not apply to ski resorts where avalanche mitigation measures are in place.