Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday storm update...

Crews are dealing with a statewide winter storm that has caused more than 60 road closures since early Wednesday. I-5 remains closed from exit 68 (11 miles south of Chehalis) to exit 88 (about 20 miles south of Olympia) for due to flooding. All three main east-west mountain passes remain closed at this hour due to water over the roadway and avalanche danger.

The Chehalis river still hasn't crested yet. We have about 3 feet of water on the northbound lanes and 2 feet of water on the southbound lanes of I-5. There is a great Web site offered by the National Weather service showing the current Chehalis river level. There is a worse case scenario today of I-5 being under 10 feet of water.

We are still getting reports of roads closing throughout the state, check our travel alerts to get the latest update.

Here are a couple of things to be aware of when during floods:
  • Do not attempt to cross a flooded roadway in your vehicle (especially if already blocked off). There is no way to know how deep the water actually is until it is too late and even a small amount of water can cause your car/truck to stall.
  • Do not attempt to cross a flooded roadway by foot, water may not look fast from the surface but it can easily sweep someone from their feet.
  • Try to avoid floodwaters. Floodwater can be contaminated with raw sewage, gasoline, and other contaminants hazardous to your health.
  • If in a flood prone area (frequent flooding) and roadway is adjacent to river, use extreme caution. Floodwaters can erode the roadway and if driving during limited visibility driver may not see missing section of road until it is too late.
Flood facts:
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the updates, these are wonderful.

Also, I've gotta say that this season I'm extremely impressed with the WSDOT and your use of technology for communication. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I understand the difficulties associated with getting roads re-opened but why does it take so long for updates and/or estimates on reopening???? It is most frustrating just sitting. waiting and hearing nothing for hours and hours and hours.

rick said...

I second the above... and would add kudo's for the photo's on Flickr as well; OUTSTANDING!

Erica Mulherin said...

Anonymous- I completely understand your frustration. Unfortunately when dealing with something as unstable, ever changing, and turbulent as a severe storm, situations can change on a dime and it's impossible to make a concrete prediction. Rest assured we are keeping the safety of the public as a priority.

Anonymous said...

Erica...we understand the changing nature of the situation and that safety comes first. Our complaint is that there is no update for hours and hours and hours. Why would it be so difficult to tell us stranded on the road of the major problems that exist and efforts being made to correct them. While not of the intelligence of our government officials, we can understand the basics and knowing what is going on is a wonderful elixir.

jadeejf said...

I also second the first comment. As frustrating as it is knowing that my friends can't get here from Portland, I really appreciate all the real-time updates on the blog, on Twitter, and on the web site. I really appreciate the effort you guys put into keeping us informed. Here's to hoping the floodwaters recede quickly!!

Anonymous said...

I think the WSDOT is close to offering a good online program. They do have real-time blog’s and comments, which is more then some states offer. But the fact remains that for the second time in a month Seattle is basically isolated from the rest of the Pacific Northwest. It seems to me that more information could and should be provided, what road are open, when will roads open, offer detours around areas with issues. I need to get to Portland, any suggestions?

E.West said...

Is there an ETA on when all lanes of I-5 SB in Fife will be reopened?

Anonymous said...

For getting to Portland, Horizon runs a shuttle from Sea-tac to PDX about every half hour.

Erica Mulherin said...

Here are some resources that can be used to find information about road closures:

Call 511 - You can get the latest traffic and weather information.

Check the closures by county page- if you do not see a road listed on this page it is safe to assume it is open. However, it's very important to realize that because of the severity of the storm, roads are closing and opening so quickly there may be a bit of lag time from when we hear that a road is closed/opened and when it gets updated on these county pages.

Sign up for our twitter updates - you can get this sent as a text message directly to your phone.

Anonymous said...

Portland bound

Fly, with AmTrak down it's your only choice

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the Twitter updates as well. Matter of fact, I found *this* blog because it was mentioned on the Twitter stream. Thank you, WSDOT, for embracing technology... the Flickr photos are very interesting as well.

Follower in Snohomish

terry said...

how do I get my infant home from Seattle to Ellensburg?

jkfcb1 said...

I have to assume that they have to be able to see the condition of the ground below the roads as well. If the roads are under water it's got to be pretty tough to determine that until the water recedes. I'm sure the reason for the delay is to not have rumor spreading and have even larger queues of traffic to deal with.

They will supply information when they have it, just be patient...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous in South Wa (different person)

I would like to know if there can be a time-stamp on updates. I realize that you cannot update as much as we would like but it would help to know when the last update was in more specific terms instead of "early morning" or other general terminology. I am stressed bc I have school in Seattle and cannot attend, these closures, with no detour routes established will severely impact me! Thx.

Anonymous said...

Be patient. Everyone in this state is being impacted by the current conditions. Life being put on hold for a few days is nothing compared to those who are losing their property and hope. Those who are in authority are doing their best.

Anonymous said...

On a seperate, but somewhat related note, are these floods going to be reflected in the design of the new lanes being added to I-5 in Chehalis? I can't find any information regarding last years or this years floods on those pages, and it would be quite foolish to widen I-5 without raising it just to watch it all flood again...

becky said...

I just want to say thanks to the guys from WFSE DOT Locals 1290, 2559 & 1984 for working so hard for us! You guys rock!

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with the previous posters on the use of technology. I don't know any other service that combines Twitter, Flickr, Blogspot, and a website so well to get their message across. Absolutely amazing!

And some of the pictures on Flickr are very beautiful. I liked those snow donuts and the icicles ;).

Anonymous said...

This is unbelieveable. The entire urban center of the state is completely isolated from surface access from the rest of the state and the country and there seems to be no plan, and no indication of any action to fix the problem. "I-5 is closed. You can't get there from here. Deal with it." is not what I would expect to here from a competently run government. I am stuck and I need to get home. I can't afford to spend two more nights in motels waiting for the state to get its act together. I can fly from Portland to Seattle but my car can't! From my own time consuming research I think *maybe* if 101 opens I can get home, but I'm not sure.

countrylace said...

I just found this blog, thank you all for trying to keep us utd. We are driving up towards Olympia tomorrow. Was wondering if you thought it was possible to get any further? Would love to get to Portland but we will change our plans.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, there is no 'fix' for flooding other than waiting until it recedes.

If you can't afford to stay in a motel then you have two options.

Sleep in your car. Or find an evacuation center. That is what they are there for.

Risking your safety trying to find a way home is dangerous considering rivers are cresting tonight. In other words this isn't over by a long shot....stay put.

Sharla Schuller said...

Anonymous - Our crew is out there working hard to get traffic across the state moving again. I can understand your frustration, but we want to ensure the public is safe. The opening of Stevens Pass has allowed for a viable east-west route across the state and we are closely monitoring the water across I-5 and US 101.

Please keep monitoring our closures by county page and utilize our 511 service for up to date information.

rubinajo said...

I think the picture here of one of the closed sections of I-5 makes it pretty clear why the WSDOT still has much that needs to happen before they can even make an assessment of what needs to be done. I think they have done an excellent job of disseminating information to the public. But they can't give us information that they don't know yet.

It must be incredibly frustrating to be stuck (as I was when it happened to me) but no one, not even the WSDOT, can make all that water just disappear at whim.