Two Dead as Atmospheric River Slams Pacific Northwest, Forcing Major Floods

Dec 7, 2023

An atmospheric river sweeping across the Pacific Northwest since Monday has left at least two people dead from the flooding. The rains have swelled rivers over their banks, shut down schools, and disrupted travel across the region. That's according to weather officials and rescue agencies.  

At least nine people had to be rescued by Coast Guard helicopters from rising floodwaters in Oregon and Washington state. Heavy rains ranging from 2-8 inches spread across the region. The flooding was made worse by melting snow at higher elevations. The rain and snow melt dumped massive amounts of water into area rivers. Five rivers in Washington state hit major flood stage Tuesday. That includes the Stillaguamish River which peaked at a record 21.34 feet. That's more than two feet higher than major flood stage. That river runs 40 miles north of Seattle.  

Flooding has made some towns reachable only by boat. 

Weather officials warned people in the area that the heavy rain is making the soil unstable. That could cause landslides. One landslide forced Amtrak to cancel train service between Seattle and Portland through today. Heavy flooding also shut down highways along the Oregon coast. 

Police are looking into the deaths of two men found in Oregon creeks as the storm passed through. The body of a man who had drowned was found in a creek in southwest Portland. Another was found in neighboring Washington County.   

The National Weather Service (NWS) urged people in the region to remain cautious even as the storm appeared to weaken. The NWS said the storm will continue to dump plenty of rain. That will keep the threat of flooding high across the region through today.   

Reflect: What actions can communities take to cope with and recover from natural disasters such as flooding?

According to the infographic, water vapor that is carried by atmospheric rivers typically ________ once it makes landfall (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. cools
b. warms
c. melts
d. vanishes
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