Floods, mudslides, and avalanches in the Pacific Northwest kept tens of thousands of people from their homes today, brought freight trains to a standstill, and stranded hundreds of trucks along the major highways that link Seattle's busy ports with markets around the country. The flooding was touched off by a combination of heavy rain and a warm spell in the mid-40s that rapidly melted the snow in the Cascade Range.
A 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5, Washington's major north-south freeway, was shut down, with one section under 3 feet of water. Every day it remains closed will cost $4 million, a state official said. Avalanches closed I-90, along with the two other routes through the mountains. Amtrak service and most freight trains were stopped as well. Hundreds of truckers simply pulled their rigs onto the shoulders of roads.