Washington faces threat of more 'atmospheric rivers,' floods

<p><p>Associated Press</p></p><p><p>SEATTLE – A week and a half after damaging floods in Washington state, forecasters warned that multiple “atmospheric rivers” threaten to once again drench the Pacific Northwest.</p></p><p><p>More moisture from atmospheric rivers – huge plumes of moisture extending over the Pacific and into the Northwest – is expected to bring up to 3 inches of rain in some areas hit by the recent flooding, forecasters said.</p></p><p><p>Officials from the National Weather Service predict periods of moderate to heavy rain through Wednesday, as the first in a series of systems move across the region.</p></p><p><p>The state is assessing millions of dollars in damage from the last atmospheric rivers.</p></p><p><p>In northwest Washington’s Whatcom County, officials say damage costs could reach as high as $50 million.</p></p><p><p>Whatcom County officials said that the damage for recent flooding was estimated at $15 million to $20 million for houses, “tens of millions of dollars” for public infrastructure and up to $20 million for area business centers, the Bellingham Herald reported Tuesday.</p></p><p><p>Rain drenched the county for three days and the Nooksack River surged over its banks Nov. 14, inundating the communities of Everson, Nooksack and Sumas.</p></p><p><p>During that time the U.S.-Canada border closed in the small city of Sumas, three bridges in Bellingham were closed and landslides blocked Interstate 5 south of Bellingham.</p></p><p><p>Jon Hutchings, director of the Whatcom County Public Works Department, said it’s been 30-plus years since flooding of this scale hit the area.</p></p><p><p>Meanwhile, damage assessments have continued in 13 other western Washington counties that Gov. Jay Inslee declared as disaster areas with the hope of getting federal aid.</p></p>