A days-long Pacific rainstorm packing the punch of a firehose continues drenching the Pacific Northwest this week, claiming at least two lives so far amid perilous flooding. Up to 9 inches of relentless rain fell since Saturday across the region in an event meteorologists dubbed an "atmospheric river" - essentially a long plume of extreme rainfall transported by strong winds from the Tropics.
When these moisture superhighways collide with mountain ranges like the Cascades or Rockies, stunning precipitation totals deluge the landscape below. That proved true this week when portions of coastal Washington and Oregon measured over half a foot of rainfall in just three days.
The staggering totals produced immediate flooding that turned deadly for two individuals while sounding the alarm across impacted communities.
On Tuesday rescuers near Portland discovered an adult male corpse tangled among tree branches in rapidly rising Bronson Creek. The tragic find continued 24 hours of emergency responses to overwhelmed waterways now covering roads, seeping into homes and claiming lives after months of regional drought concerns.
Rivers swelled multiple feet past flood stage and show no signs of receding as models forecast another 2 to 4 more inches of rain into Wednesday night.
Lingering flood watches cover much of western Oregon and Washington, which are most exposed to the consecutive onslaught of moisture streaming in off the Pacific Ocean.
The National Weather Service warned that the saturated soils can only absorb so much water before flash flooding risks rise exponentially. Citizens remain on guard for sudden overflowing smaller creeks and streams into streets or nearby homes and buildings.
Like all extreme weather patterns, the risk falls heaviest on vulnerable populations without reliable shelter or resources to temporarily relocate out of harm's way. That leaves officials carefully monitoring rainfall totals around the I-5 corridor stretching from Portland to Seattle, where the bulk of homeless communities reside near waterfronts.
Expanding emergency shelters, distributing supplies and conducting wellness checks aim to prevent more loss of life as the Pineapple Express rainstorm persists.