Rockslide on interstate injures two in rain-pelted Washington state

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 06, 2015 3:30 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A boulder toppled onto an interstate highway on Tuesday in the mountains east of Seattle, striking two semi-trailer trucks and a car and injuring two people as Washington state grappled with landslides and flooding.

The boulder slid down a face of rock onto Interstate 90 east of the Snoqualmie Pass summit just before 5 a.m., Washington State Patrol Trooper Darren Wright said.

The two injured people, sent to a hospital with minor injuries, were in a sport utility vehicle traveling in the westbound lanes, which remained closed as state officials assessed the cause of the rockslide and the likelihood of further danger, Wright said.

The busy highway, at times difficult to navigate with rain and snow in the high elevations, traverses the Cascade Range and connects the Seattle area with eastern Washington and beyond. It was not raining as emergency officials arrived at the slide sight, but the roadway was wet.

The slide came as heavy rainfall in western Washington state in recent days was believed to have caused landslides and flooding in coastal Grays Harbor County, knocking three homes off their foundations and forcing the evacuation of a nursing home.

Officials also closed schools, including Grays Harbor College, and canceled sporting events.

The National Weather Service said the increased risk of landslides because of heavy rain that fell on Sunday and Monday would continue, especially for steep coastal bluffs and hillsides, but diminish over the next several days.

The NWS also said major flooding would continue on the lower reach of the Snoqualmie River on Tuesday. The agency issued flood warnings for several rivers in western Washington counties.

Several roads remained closed on Tuesday because of flooding in Snohomish County, northeast of Seattle, the county said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Peter Cooney)