January 2009 Flood


It is 7 January 2009 and the Northwest Railway Museum is experiencing a major flood event. Two wood trestles and nearly 2 miles of track are underwater. The extent of damage is unknown but there are multiple washouts. At dusk Snoqualmie River flow volumes are over 55,000 cubic feet per second; a crest of 63,000 is projected for 22:00. According the National Weather Service weather statement for the area, some areas have received up to 15 inches of rain in the last 36 hours. This is likely going to be one of the biggest flood events on record. Updates will be posted on this page when they become available.

Update Wednesday at 17:55. The electric power is out and the town is as black as ink. Standby power here in the depot is allowing web page updates, at least for now.

Update Thursday at 00:30. The river appears to have crested at 22:00 as projected with a peak flow of 60,513 cfs. The Snoqualmie Depot remained dry but it is literally surrounded by water. The back lawn where the Day Out With Thomas event is held is completely covered with water. Few businesses in town have been spared at least some damage. There is at least a trace of water in the new Conservation and Restoration Center but damage cannot be investigated until water recedes as there is several feet of water covering the main road through town.

Update Thursday at 09:05. Water has dropped about a foot allowing me to get around town to see a few things. About three hours ago, a house on Northern Street caught on fire. With two feet of water in the Northern Street rail crossing, the fire trucks could not get to the house. They parked at the edge of the crossing and waded in. Pretty wild. The track is pretty badly impacted with washouts far more extensive than the 2006 flood event. Thankfully, the chapel car and other wood cars did not get any water in them.

Update Thursday at 11:55. Water has dropped further and we were able to get into the CRC. About 1/2 inch got in (mostly around the rail cutouts in the floor) and there is not damage apparent however everything that the water came into contact with will have to be decontaminated with bleach to prevent mold growth. More track washouts were discovered along the right of way; several photos of same have been added below.

Update Friday, 12:05. Water has receded from most of the track structure and we can begin to assess how serious the impact is. Lots and lots of railroad ballast has been washed away. A trespass-prevention train-activated electric gate has been seriously damaged. Some wood retaining walls along the track have been damaged. There is lots of debris along the track to remove.

Newest photos are at the bottom.

From the National Weather Service:

WAC033-080705- /O.CON.KSEW.FL.W.0008.000000T0000Z-090109T1841Z/ /SQUW1.3.ER.090107T1054Z.090108T0600Z.090109T0941Z.NO/ 405 PM PST WED JAN 07 2009 THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE SNOQUALMIE RIVER NEAR THE FALLS

* UNTIL FRIDAY MORNING.

* AT 3:30 PM WEDNESDAY THE FLOW WAS 55368 CFS.

* FLOOD FLOW IS 20000 CFS.

* MAJOR FLOODING IS OCCURRING. THE FORECAST IS FOR MAJOR FLOODING.

* FORECAST...THE RIVER WILL CONTINUE TO RISE AND CREST NEAR 63580 CFS AROUND 10 PM WEDNESDAY. THE RIVER WILL FALL BELOW FLOOD FLOW EARLY FRIDAY MORNING.

* IMPACT...AT 55000 CFS...THE SNOQUALMIE RIVER WILL CAUSE MAJOR FLOODING FROM THE TOWN OF SNOQUALMIE DOWNSTREAM THROUGH FALL CITY...INUNDATING MOST OF THE FARM LAND IN THE FLOOD PLAIN...SOME RESIDENTIAL AREAS...AND MANY ROADS. FLOOD WATERS WILL BE DEEP AND SWIFT IN SOME AREAS. FLOODING WILL OCCUR ALL ALONG THE RIVER INCLUDING HEADWATERS...TRIBUTARIES...AND OTHER STREAMS WITHIN AND NEAR THE SNOQUALMIE RIVER BASIN. THIS RIVER LEVEL ON THE SNOQUALMIE CORRESPONDS ROUGHLY TO A PHASE 4 FLOOD IN THE KING COUNTY FLOOD SYSTEM.

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South Fork of the Snoqualmie River passes through North Bend and Bridge 35 crosses just upstream from North Bend Way. The river was just a few inches from overtopping the dyke under the bridge, just to the right of the photo.

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Water covers nearly 2 miles of track as of dusk on 7 Jan.

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Water rushes from one side of the tracks to the other. It is this imbalance that causes multiple washouts.

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Got Rice is an island.

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Water is actually flowing upstream on the very swollen Kimball Creek seen here at Delta Street, about 1,500 feet from the actual creek.

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At Beta Street and Railroad Place, dangerous currents were evident.

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Bethany's Koko Beans was the only business open most of the afternoon.

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By 19:30, water covers most of railroad park and surrounds the log pavilion. Water is just 300 feet from the Snoqualmie Depot. By 22:00 and the flood crest, water covered the concrete under the log. There is no evidence to suggest the water has ever got this high before.

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The main track between River Street and Newton Street is one of the few places in downtown Snoqualmie not covered with flood water. This image was taken just as the flood crested. This block, the track in front of the depot, and 200 feet in Railroad Park totals about 1,200 feet and is the only track out of the flood waters from the south city limits on Stone Quarry Road to where the track begins to climb up to the Snoqualmie Falls generating station just west of the Snoqualmie Parkway.

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Falls avenue was completely covered with water. Looking southeast, this view is about 200 feet from the Snoqualmie Depot. (The image is blurry because after shooting in the rain for a couple of hours the autofocus stopped working.)

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A house fire on Northern Street broke before day break. The fire trucks could not get to the house because the flood water was too deep so they set up camp at the rail crossing and waded in. Water had receded about 12 inches from the crest when this image was taken.

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Flood waters gave Shay #1 a pretty good soaking. At its crest, the water was about 1 foot higher than depicted in this image.

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Track washout near Beta Street. This identical story can be told in dozens and dozens of locations along a 2 mile stretch of track. Unfortunately, many washouts are considerably deeper than this one. This type of damage is not difficult to repair but it is labor-intensive and rock costs about $20 per yard. Evident in just this photo is about 9 cubic yards of washout.

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Snoqualmie Parkway is one of the busiest crossings. It was overtopped by rushing floodwaters for the first time since construction in 1997 and over 100 yards of ballast has washed into the Snoqualmie River. Just below the water and exposed and running under the railroad tracks is a high pressure water main..

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One particularly deep washout is at the Stone Quarry Road crossing. Although not clear in this photo, the water is flowing at a really high rate. The depth of the washout is approximately 50 inches..

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The CRC at 11:00 on Thursday, 8 January 09. Flood water has receded by over 2 feet. Not more than1/2 inch got inside the CRC because it leaked in around the rail cutouts in the floor. There is no damage but everything it came in contact with will have to be decontaminated to prevent mold growth. The man in the photo is teh Snoqualmie Valley Record publisher and general manager Bill Shaw. Bill is also a museum trustee and stayed at the museum overnight to help monitor the situation. Also on hand was Jessie's dog Omar. He was surveying the damage too. Note debris on track in foreground - the flood waters placed that there. Just behind the photographer, there is a minor washout where the railroad ties are exposed.