Earliest Significant Wilson River Flood on Record

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Tillamook County Sheriff’s office marine patrol on North Main/Hwy. 101, Tillamook

(Monday, October 23, 2017)

Tillamook experienced another flood event Sunday, October 22nd in the early morning after the Coast Range near Lees Camp received 10.7” of rain in a 48 hour period that ended at 1pm Sunday. This area feeds the Wilson River Basin and this amount of rain, the most recorded anywhere for this particular event, caused the Wilson River to climb to 17.05’ which is considered a Moderate Flood, that’s 5.05’ above Flood Stage. Tillamook County Emergency Manager Gordon McCraw, who is a retired Navy Meteorologist said, “This was a result of an Atmosphere River event associated with a front that stalled over the area. It was supposed to drift north then move south out of the area but instead sat over our area, causing the flooding.”

The Wilson River rose above the Flood Stage of 12’ before midnight Saturday and continued to climb through Minor Flood Stage and into Moderate Flood Stage around 2am, cresting around 5am Sunday. It appears this is the earliest significant flood event for the Wilson River on record.  McCraw said, “The good news is the waters receded pretty quickly, not as quickly as we may have liked, but still relative fast considering.”  He said there have been several flood mitigation projects in the Highway 101 North Main area in Tillamook that likely contributed to the rivers rapidly draining which limiting the duration of the flood event, thus making cleanup easier and quicker also.

As far as significant impacts, Wilson River Loop, a bypass around the Hwy 101 North Main area that was flooded and closed, also saw some flooding and was reduced to one lane with flaggers through the morning hours until the water receded.  The Misty River RV Park off Hwy 6 east of Tillamook was flooded and trailers had to be evacuated. One trailer could not be moved because of the rising water and was flooded.  In town there were some vehicles that were flooded and a limited number of businesses had water inside.  While the winds were gusty and strong at times, they only caused some sporadic power outages, mainly associated with falling limbs. There were no injuries associated with the flood event.

The other rivers climbed also, the Trask River crested at 17.56’, a little over a foot above flood, and the Nehalem River crested at 15.02’, that is 0.02’ above Flood Stage. The Nestucca River only came close to Action Stage. All rivers are now well below Flood Level and continue to fall. Winds for this event were strong but manageable.