Melting Snow Floods Wash. State

30K asked to evacuate in west; mudslides, avalanches feared
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2009 10:06 AM CST
Water rushes past a washed out road near Blewett Pass on US Hwy. 97 in Washington yesterday.   (Washington State Department of Transportation)
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(Newser) – More than 30,000 people were urged to leave their flood-endangered western Washington homes as snowmelt and rain swelled rivers and caused mudslides and avalanches that engulfed neighborhoods and roadways. Warmer temperatures and heavy rains were rapidly melting the deep snow that dumped on the Cascade mountains over the weekend.

Rising waters led state highway crews to close a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 last night, and the state's three major east-west routes across the Cascade mountains are closed as well. Those routes may reopen sometime today, but authorities fear I-5, which carries 10,000 trucks a day, could be closed for days. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for about two dozen rivers in western Washington.