The New Year came out swinging, packing a myriad of surprises for the Snoqualmie Valley and the Snoqualmie Pass within days of ticking into 2021.
Over the weekend, the Valley saw flooding, snow and a gas leak that led to evacuations in downtown Snoqualmie. Around 3:40 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 3), the Snoqualmie Fire Department received a report of a natural gas line fracture in downtown Snoqualmie along SE Newton Street, between Railroad Avenue SE and Maple Avenue SE.
There was a strong odor, and gas was visibly venting from the roadway where construction had been done to relocate utilities. Because the flow of natural gas could not be controlled, residents in the area were evacuated to Snoqualmie City Hall one block away.
When Puget Sound Energy crews arrived, nearby homes were monitored for natural gas buildup. But eventually the homes were determined to be safe and the evacuation order was lifted, allowing residents to return home.
In total, 32 fire personnel and 12 trucks were at the scene. Employees from Snoqualmie Fire, Eastside Fire and Rescue, Fall City Fire and the Bellevue Fire Department all responded. Law enforcement from the Snoqualmie Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife were also on the scene.
The King County Flood Warning Center was also opened shortly after midnight Jan. 3 to monitor potentially minor flooding due to heavy rains along the Snoqualmie River. Flood Warning Center employees operated remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The center was closed again near 4 a.m. after monitoring river conditions and gauges.
Minor flooding was seen into Monday, Jan. 4, in low-lying areas in the lower Snoqualmie Valley, but no major flooding occurred. According to Floodzilla, which tracks river gauges along the Snoqualmie River, peak flows at Snoqualmie Falls and near Carnation passed on Sunday morning without reaching flood stages.
As of Monday morning, only one of the several additional river gauges monitored by the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance showed flooding, just south of Duvall.
At Snoqualmie Pass, some 26.5 inches of snow fell on Snoqualmie Pass over the weekend, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Another 21 inches of snow fell on Stevens Pass. Some 10 inches of additional snowfall was expected on Monday over Snoqualmie Pass.
According to the National Weather Service’s 30-day forecast issued on Dec. 31, Puget Sound is expected to receive more precipitation than normal, with slightly higher than usual temperatures.