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Heavy rains cause street flooding across Whatcom County

A driver navigates through a flooded portion of Smith Road east of Northwest Road on Monday morning, Jan. 5, 2015.
A driver navigates through a flooded portion of Smith Road east of Northwest Road on Monday morning, Jan. 5, 2015. The Bellingham Herald

Heavy rains caused street flooding in places across Whatcom County on Monday, Jan. 5 and shut down a lane of Interstate 5 north of Bellingham for several hours.

A flood warning remains in effect through Tuesday morning for the Nooksack River near Nugents Corner, where the river was expected to crest slightly above flood stage late Monday night before receding. Shallow flooding in low-lying areas was expected.

On I-5, flooding in the median spread onto the left northbound lane north of Bellingham International Airport. That lane was blocked off all morning to about 2 p.m. for safety after vehicles hydroplaned on the water.

Whatcom County and Bellingham public works departments were busy checking roads and closing some for flooding. Most of the flooded streets are ones that frequently flood in heavy rains, including Hemmi, Kelly, Kline, Lummi Shore and West Smith roads.

But with more than 2 inches of rain since early Sunday, some spots that rarely flood also caused trouble. Crews had to close off one lane of Guide Meridian near Kelly Road because deep water covered the street as storm drains were overwhelmed.

Whatcom County keeps an updated list of flooded and closed streets at www.co.whatcom.wa.us/publicworks/roadclosures/.

Jeff Gollen, maintenance operations superintendent for Whatcom County Public Works, said most lowland creeks were at their maximum Monday afternoon.

“Everything is pretty much saturated at this point,” Gollen said.

The heavy rain also has increased landslide danger, the National Weather Service advised.

The rain should disappear Tuesday, with the midweek being partly sunny with highs in the low 50s before rain is possible again on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

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