Image: Mudslide
Steve Bloom  /  AP
Small mudslides like this one in Olympia, Wash., on Sunday were triggered by downpours over the weekend.
updated 12/13/2010 10:35:52 AM ET 2010-12-13T15:35:52

Heavy rains that hit western Washington state over the weekend have eased and rivers that flooded roads and houses are on their way down or cresting.

But the National Weather Service says that flood warnings remain in effect Monday on several rivers.

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Parts of more than 20 Washington rivers flooded, said Johnny Burg, National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle.

While flooding is common this time of year in the region, "What kind of sets this one apart is it's very widespread," Burg said.

Most damage came from landslides and minor flooding in valleys and in some residential and urban areas.

Crews reopened U.S. Highway 2 near Skykomish after a mudslide blocked it early Sunday. That slide, on the west slope of the Cascades about 47 miles east of Seattle, also blocked the railroad track across the Cascades from Everett to Wenatchee, Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas said.

Amtrak service was suspended in the region until Tuesday morning as a precaution, as were Sounder commuter trains Monday between Seattle and Everett. Melonas said no trains had been hit and freight trains continued to run.

Slides blocked at least one street in Seattle and closed State Route 11, the scenic Chuckanut Drive, south of Bellingham.

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Most rivers started going down by Sunday afternoon, and the worst of the flood danger was expected to be over by early Monday. The major exception was the Stillaguamish, which reached 21.06 feet at Arlington on Sunday afternoon, tying the record set in November 2006. Flood stage for the river is 14 feet.

The National Weather Service said the water could go as high as 22 feet before it starts to fall Monday. It's expected to be below flood stage by Monday night.

The North Fork and South Fork of the Stillaguamish join at Arlington, and flooding was reported on both. The North Fork at Arlington crested at 4 p.m. Sunday at a record 15.29 feet.

Near Granite Falls on the South Fork, residents of about 230 homes and businesses were sandbagging and told to consider evacuating. Snohomish County spokesman Christopher Schwarzen said it was not known how many may have left.

At Stanwood, near the mouth of the river, nearly 75 people shoveled sand into bags during a downpour, The Daily Herald of Everett reported. People built a wall along the river out of sandbags and concrete blocks.

"I'm here to keep water out of people's houses," said 6-year-old Connor Crockett, who showed up with his dad, Herb Crockett, to help. "We have to keep the Stilly out."

East of Seattle, a pump failed in the tony suburb of Medina, sending a "significant" amount of sewage into Lake Washington, Annie Kolb-Nelson, spokeswoman for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, told The Seattle Times.

The weather service says that the next front to move into the Northwest on Tuesday won't be as wet.

Video: Northwest Forecast (on this page)

On Sunday, rainfall set a record at Seattle-Tacoma Airport of 2.19 inches, breaking the mark for the date of 1.70 set in 1966.

The overall one-day record for Sea-Tac is over 5 inches.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kirby Cook described the storm system as a "plume of very moist, warm Pacific air." Its relative warmth brought rain, not snow into the Cascades, causing large runoff from the mountains, feeding and overwhelming rivers and creeks on the lowlands.

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Video: Floods wreak havoc on West Coast

  1. Transcript of: Floods wreak havoc on West Coast

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And in the Pacific Northwest tonight the problem is rain. There have been mudslides, houses swamped, raging rivers there. All the flooding has led to several rescues around the region, including this one. A woman backed her car into a swollen pond. Rescuers had to smash the car windows to get her out. In the end, thankfully, she was unhurt.


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