Fall’s most fierce storm yet began to wash ashore with gusting winds and flooding rain across the North Beach areas of Grays Harbor County Thursday as a high surf warning remained in effect for the coast into Friday.
North end students who attend North Beach Jr/Sr High School and ride bus routes 5 and 6 were excused early Thursday as a result of the rising waters of the Moclips and Copalis Rivers. Pacific Beach Elementary closed at noon. The Holiday Concert scheduled for Thursday has been postponed until Monday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m.
At the bend in State Route 109 next to the Moclips River bridge, water was partially closing one lane of traffic on Thursday, and locals noted that was before the afternoon high tide.
Kelly Calhoun of the Museum of the North Beach up the hill in Moclips took photos of the flooding on the highway in the morning and noted Grays Harbor County workers were out on the bridge on 2nd Street removing debris “slammed up against the bridge,” which provides the main access to the the beach.
“Thankfully, this is not as bad as January 2015” when flooding closed the highway, Calhoun noted.
At Fire District No. 8, which covers Moclips and Pacific Beach, Stephanie Allestad reported the Moclips River was going over its banks on Thursday, with about a foot of standing water on Highway 109. Farther south on the highway at milepost 28 below Seabrook, the southbound lanes were reported to be covered in water.
The National Weather Service said the high surf advisory will continue through 10 p.m. Friday for Grays Harbor county, as well as Clallam and Jefferson counties to the north. Surf surge warnings remain in effect for Westport, Ocean Shores, Taholah, and La Push. Waves will build to 20-25 feet Friday morning, according to the Weather Service. On the upper Olympic Peninsula, the Bogachiel River was expected to reach flood stage.
The surf advisory was accompanied by a wind watch warning, with winds forecast to be 25-45 mph, with gusts from 55-60 mph.
The Weather Service warns that winds may be strong enough to down tree limbs, causing localized power outages. On Thursday morning, power was knocked out along the North Shore Road of Lake Quinault, but the Grays Harbor PUD was able to restore service before noon.
Saturday is expected to bring another brief lull in conditions during the day before another system moves inland in the evening. The Weather Service forecasts more rain and potential for widespread river flooding into next week.