Alsea, Siletz rivers flood

As an Oregon Department of Transportation crew worked Wednesday to keep Highway 34 east of Waldport drivable following heavy rains that spilled water onto the roadway late Tuesday evening. The waters from the rising Alsea River crept toward residences and outbuildings. (Photo by Michael Heinbach) The Siletz River overran Lincoln County’s Ichwhit Park and its parking lot on Wednesday. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp) A king tide combined with high winds to send waves crashing over the railing of the SW 35th Street public beach access in Lincoln City on Tuesday morning. This is the site of a sculpture commemorating Joe the Sea Lion, which became the city’s unofficial mascot in the 1930s. (Photo by Nicole Smith) Water covers areas of the Salishan Golf Links, which lies near the mouth of the Siletz River, after inches of rain and surging tides earlier this week. (Photo by Casey Felton) Heavy rain and high tides swell the Siletz River and inundate neighborhoods along Highway 229 on Wednesday. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp) Water overflows the Siletz Highway at milepost 9 (above) on Wednesday. Flooding prompted the Oregon Department of Transportation to close the highway from milepost 9 to 15. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp) The Alsea River swelled past its banks (pictured right)Wednesday and threatened to flood residences off of Highway 34 about five miles east of Waldport. (Photo by Michael Heinbach)

KERNVILLE/TIDEWATER — High tides and heavy rains brought both the Alsea and Siletz rivers above flood stage earlier this week, with the tidal surge inundating parks, roads and neighborhoods near waterways.

A lighted message board just after the entrance to the Siletz Highway from Highway 101 warned motorists Wednesday that the highway ahead was closed at milepost 9. There, high tides had pushed the Siletz River over the roadway near Reed Creek, at its highest rising above the number on the milepost sign.

At roads to subdivisions and RV parks all along the first nine-mile stretch of Highway 229, vehicles were parked along the sides of the highway to keep them out of the water. Most homes near the river are raised due to the history of flooding, but the debris-filled flow made its way into many garages and structures. Lincoln County’s Ichwhit Park and its parking lot were underwater.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Siletz River at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, when it was at 15.7 feet, just below 16-foot flood stage, and rising. It crested at 21.62 feet Tuesday afternoon and remained at flood stage until Wednesday night.  At 1 a.m. Wednesday, the weather service issued a flood warning for the Alsea River near Tidewater. The river crested at 20.83 feet Wednesday afternoon, flooding pasture and dairy land, as well as structures and roads.

But those numbers don’t reflect the impact of the King Tides and other factors that resulted in a surge.

Several inches of rain fell on the coast from two fronts that moved through the area from Monday into Tuesday night, with the ground already saturated and rivers already nearly full from more than six inches of precipitation the previous week and a half. That rainfall was enough to bring the two rivers to flood stage at their upstream gauges, but tides several feet higher than normal resulted in even greater flooding closer to the coast, where the river levels are not measured by instrumentation.

“And then you add in some high surf,” NWS Portland Forecast Meteorologist Rebecca Muessle said. “When you have those really high waves, it kind of compounds those tides and adds an increased surge. And then on top of that we had winds, and the winds were quite strong, which also emphasized that tidal push.”

Rainfall totals for the first two weeks of January were 7.93 inches at Lincoln City, 10.61 inches at Newport, 10.87 inches at Roads End, 12.91 inches at Rose Lodge, 10.19 inches at Yachats and 15.22 inches at Cape Perpetua.

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As an Oregon Department of Transportation crew worked Wednesday to keep Highway 34 east of Waldport drivable following heavy rains that spilled water onto the roadway late Tuesday evening. The waters from the rising Alsea River crept toward residences and outbuildings. (Photo by Michael Heinbach) The Siletz River overran Lincoln County’s Ichwhit Park and its parking lot on Wednesday. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp) A king tide combined with high winds to send waves crashing over the railing of the SW 35th Street public beach access in Lincoln City on Tuesday morning. This is the site of a sculpture commemorating Joe the Sea Lion, which became the city’s unofficial mascot in the 1930s. (Photo by Nicole Smith) Water covers areas of the Salishan Golf Links, which lies near the mouth of the Siletz River, after inches of rain and surging tides earlier this week. (Photo by Casey Felton) Heavy rain and high tides swell the Siletz River and inundate neighborhoods along Highway 229 on Wednesday. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp) Water overflows the Siletz Highway at milepost 9 (above) on Wednesday. Flooding prompted the Oregon Department of Transportation to close the highway from milepost 9 to 15. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp) The Alsea River swelled past its banks (pictured right)Wednesday and threatened to flood residences off of Highway 34 about five miles east of Waldport. (Photo by Michael Heinbach)


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