Monday, January 12, 2009

Storm damage update

Our rangers were able to do some more exploring over the weekend, and so far, it continues to look like the damage from last week's storm was far less than it could have been. There are a LOT of trees down, and some minor damage in developed areas like Ohanapecosh from fallen trees, but the roads seem to have survived intact, at least between Highway 12 and the Grove of the Patriarchs, and from the park boundary to the White River Ranger Station on Highway 410. Stephen Lofgren checked out the Ohanapecosh corner, while Geoff Walker had this to say about White River on Sunday:

Hwy 410 from Enumclaw to Crystal Blvd. opened last night to the general public after being closed on the 7th due to flood-related issues. Standing water, running water, undercut pavement, falling trees, and numerous large land slides had combined to make the road impassable. Crystal Mountain Ski Area is opening today after several days of closure. In the Park, there is now a "path through the carnage" of downed trees along Hwy 410, just wide enough to get a snowmobile through. We made it in to the White River campground, all roads seem to be in good shape up to that point. Buildings in the area also seemed to weather the storm well; no damage found. We did not get above the White River turn-off on Hwy 410, so no word on the upper highway or Hwy 123. There is about 2.5 feet of snow at the north boundary gate. The Silver Creek snowpark at the base of Crystal Mountain Blvd. is inaccessible. No word yet on whether it will be rotored clear for use the rest of the season or not. Public parking is not allowed in front of the north boundary gate.

Sounds like the Carbon River road flooded in the same places it did in November. The Nisqually Road from Longmire to Paradise, meanwhile, remains closed because of the washout on Glacier Hill. With better weather this week, the Federal Highways Administration will evaluate the road. We also anticipate a helicopter flight sometime mid-week to evaluate Stevens Canyon, Highway 123, and some of the backcountry trails and cabins.

P.M. Update: Here's a report from volunteer Flash Parlini, sent this morning:

I drove as far as I could on Saturday: SR165 is one lane leaving Wilkeson, and has more issues in Carbonado and just below the Mowich wye. The Carbon road (Fairfax Forest Reserve Rd E) is officially closed at Fairfax, with a barricade that lets the residents and 'official business' go through. Several slides across the road that had been partly cleared up to Poch Ck, then lots of debris and a no-nonsense slide around the curve 200m ahead. I parked at Carbon River Ranch and walked.

As far as I could see, there was no pavement damage - there's just a lot of stuff on top of it. Mostly it's because the ditches and culverts (not maintained since November's flood) were overwhelmed, plus a couple of hillside blow-outs. The big slide beyond Poch Creek is maybe 30m wide and easy enough to cross; there's another one near Tolmie Creek that's smaller but still quicksand in the middle. Two small spots where the bank below the road is gone and the pavement is exposed to undercutting, shouldn't be an issue. The construction site and heavy equipment from November's flood are intact, as is the FS7810 bridge. The road is snow-free up to the gate.

Looks like the ranger station views have improved a bit more. We lost another chunk of the maintenance yard, and the slumping is within one pace of the washer/dryer "trails condo" building. Looked like about ten inches of rain in the last week, per the gage. The road to Ipsut has a little more scouring in the same places as last time, still looks drivable to the '96 washout when we clear a few trees. The snow is basically continuous from there on up. No change to the bypass trail, some more erosion and deposition in the washout itself. Looks like a lot of water came in via the channel from the Green Lake curves - the shoulder above Falls Creek picnic area is significantly channeled. There's a chunk of road (~2m wide going ~1m into a lane) that's fallen into the river at the GL curves, exactly as we've been warning for years. Ranger Creek went over the road a bit, but mostly a lot of water came down the road from farther east and emptied into the creek through the parking lot. No harm done at the trailhead area; the road is heavily scoured but effectively no worse than after 2006.

All in all, only the slump at the Green Lake curve is significant. As far as hikers are concerned, there's really no difference at all from November - even the trees are simple to go around or under.

1 comment: said...

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