Issaquah residents urged to prepare amid King County flood watch

November 21, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 5 p.m. Nov. 21, 2011

King County is under a flood watch as a precipitation-laden system barrels into Western Washington, and Issaquah residents should prepare for localized flooding as rain and wind pelt the area.

The flood watch is in effect until through late Wednesday night. Expect 2 to 4 inches of rainfall Monday night and Tuesday as the snow level rises to about 6,000 feet, and then another 1 to 3 inches Tuesday night and Wednesday as the snow level gradually dips to about 3,000 feet.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Seattle said any flooding related to the system is expected to be minor.

In addition, a wind advisory is in effect through noon Tuesday.

Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said leaves dislodged from trees by rain and wind could also clog storm drains and lead to flooding along city streets.

Issaquah Creek flooding is not expected to pose a major problem in the days ahead.

“It’s going to be a decent storm, but being that this is going to be the first one, stream levels are relatively low,” he said. “We’ll probably see some urban flooding issues, especially with all of the leaves coming off of the trees.”

Seattle Public Utilities encourage residents to “adopt” a local storm drain or drainage ditch to remove leaves and other debris. Residents should also maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels and private culverts by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.

Local preparation efforts started before the La Niña conditions — colder-than-normal temperatures and greater-than-normal rain- and snowfall — came to bear. The city enlisted Community Emergency Response Team members to distribute more than 300 fliers to businesses and residences in the Issaquah Creek floodplain.

Autumn Monahan, city spokeswoman, encouraged residents to turn to the municipal website, Emergency Information Line — 837-3028 — Channel 21 and 1700-AM radio station for up-to-date flooding information. Residents can request free sand and bags from the city by calling 837-3470.

Since the last flood season, forecasters also changed how flood data is reported for Issaquah Creek.

In response to conflicting flood information during a deluge last December, the National Weather Service adjusted flood warning levels for the creek.

The agency now bases flood warnings on the creek flow, rather than height.

Forecasters made the adjustments in October. The switch is meant to avoid confusion between National Weather Service data and the municipal flood warning system.

The city bases warnings on real-time data from a gauge upstream from Issaquah in Hobart. The system can usually provide a few hours of lead time before flooding impacts Issaquah. The data collected by the National Weather Service comes from a downstream gauge near the creek mouth in Lake Sammamish State Park.

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