At the start of Skagit County’s annual Flood Awareness Week on Monday, the Skagit River had risen about 3 feet in two days, with forecasts suggesting it would rise several more feet before the river crests midweek a few feet shy of flood stage.
While flooding is not expected along the Skagit River during Flood Awareness Week, according to Northwest River Forecast Center information, recent rain is pushing the river and other area rivers higher in their channels.
The rapidly increasing flows make for murky water, such as where the Skagit flows through downtown Mount Vernon. There, the river has recently changed from a blue-green river with sandbar exposed to a muddy swell encroaching on riverside trees in Edgewater Park.
In Samish Bay, the increase in water resulted in a precautionary closure of commercial shellfish harvesting on Monday morning.
Precautionary closures are issued for the bay when flow in the Samish River increases by more than 100 cubic feet per second within a 24-hour period. That’s because of the potential for the stormwater feeding into the river bringing bacterial pollution with it.
Skagit County saw significant rain Friday through Sunday, with about 0.8 inches logged in the Mount Vernon area and about 4.25 inches in Marblemount, according to National Weather Service data.
Flood Awareness Week, which runs through Friday, is a time when county officials and emergency response partners work to remind the community of the risk of flooding and how to prepare for it, as well as ensure they are ready to respond to flooding.
“We are blessed in Skagit County to have abundant water resources with the Skagit, Samish, Sauk and Cascade rivers ... but living within these watersheds means residents need to be prepared for when flooding inevitably occurs,” Skagit County Public Works Director Dan Berentson said in a news release.
The last major flood event in Skagit County was in 2015, according to the release.
Smaller floods in the years since have resulted in road closures and infrastructure damage, including the erosion-related loss of multiple homes in Lyman in 2017.
“Historically, flooding has been the most prevalent type of natural disaster to (affect) Skagit County,” Skagit County Commissioner Ron Wesen said in the release. “It is important that we set aside time each year for education and planning.”
Flood stage is 28 feet for the Skagit River and about 10.5 feet for the Samish River.
River levels can be checked online or through the county’s River Level Hot Line at 360-416-1404.
For more information on local flooding and preparation: skagitcounty.net/Flood