Weather plays havoc in Washington, other states

| 1/8/2009

The Washington state DOT information line is advising truckers and other travelers that not only is Interstate 5 closed near Chehalis, but more than 60 other roads and highways in the state are also closed because of flooding, mudslides or the threat of avalanche.

“I-5 remains closed from Exit 68, 11 miles south of Chehalis, to Exit 88, about 20 miles south of Olympia for an extended period due to flooding,” the recording stated as of midday on Thursday, Jan. 8.

All three major mountain passes in the Cascades remained closed Thursday and at least 30,000 people have been evacuated from their homes because of rising waters that threaten floods on 19 separate rivers.

The result is that truckers were stuck at truck stops and rest areas all over the state on Thursday.

At the Rainier Place truck stop near Yakima, Gary Sybouts says the lot was full of tractor-trailers.

“Oh yeah, they’re parking all over in the mall parking lot there’s so many,” Sybouts, father of the truck stop owners, told Land Line Now on XM Satellite Radio. “They’re just all stuffed up all over.”

“Most of the deliveries are going to Seattle, and they can’t get there,” Sybouts said. “The roads had some big mudslides and avalanches right across the freeway. They’re digging them out as we speak. Water is over the road at Interstate 5 going south from Seattle, so there’s nothing coming out of the ports of Seattle or Tacoma.”

Adding to the misery of truckers is the fact that for most of the major highways that are shut down in Washington, there is no reasonable detour.

The weather’s creating havoc in other areas of the country, too.

In the South, heavy rains caused flooding in parts of the Carolinas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Virginia.

In the Northeast, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont all lowered speed limits to between 40 and 45 mph on major highways Wednesday, Jan. 7, because of freezing rain.

In Alaska, they canceled a cross-country ski race on Wednesday because the temperature was 60-below.

And in Frazee, MN, they canceled a dogsled race because there’s too much snow.

– By Reed Black, staff writer