Saturday, December 11, 2010

Western Washington Braces For A Strong Pineapple Express Today

You are looking at what Granite Falls looked like in November of 2006, when the Stillaguamish River and all the other rivers of Western Washington went in to flood mode brought on by several Pineapple Express Storms in a row.

Washington is scheduled to get hit with a Pineapple Express Storm this afternoon, dumping 8 inches of rain in the mountains, with 3 inches expected to fall on the lowlands.

Along with the rain the temperature will rise, with melting snow adding to the flood.

I don't remember when the term "Pineapple Express" was first heard by my ears. It seems it was during the Thanksgiving Day Storm back in the 1990s. That was the worst flooding I remember ever seeing. I'd been up well past midnight, helping sandbag downtown Mount Vernon. The flood was expected to go over the sandbags and flood downtown Mount Vernon.

That would have been a real bad thing. When the Skagit River runs high, downtown Mount Vernon is like New Orleans, well below the water level.

During that particular flood a large crowd had gathered to view the crest of the river, from elevated vantage points. But, just as the time of the predicted crest arrived, the Skagit River dropped a couple feet. The dike had broken down river, flooding Fir Island, saving downtown Mount Vernon.

Two weeks after the Thanksgiving Day Flood, which was supposedly something like a 100 year, or more event. It happened again.

I hope today's Pineapple Express is not a real bad one. But I suspect it may be. There is a lot of snow on the Cascades, ready to melt.

"A Chinook" was what warm tropical air hitting the Pacific Northwest used to be called before the "Pineapple Express" phrase became the popular term used to describe the weather phenomenon in which a strong flow of atmospheric moisture forms near the Hawaiian Islands and then extends to any location along the Canadian or American Pacific Coast.

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