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MELTING SNOW IN NORTHWEST CAUSES FLOODING, MUDSLIDES.

Byline: Peggy Andersen Associated Press

Rain and rising temperatures Monday began washing away four days of snow and ice across the Northwest, only to cause flooding and mudslides.

Tens of thousands of sandbags were issued to communities along swollen rivers in Washington and Oregon. Low-lying fields and roads were swamped by water or blocked by mud, and scattered evacuations were reported.

At least nine people have died in Washington and Oregon since Thursday as a result of back-to-back storms that dumped up to 2 feet of snow and freezing rain, stranded travelers and knocked out power to tens of thousands of people.

``Right now, mud is beginning to be a bigger problem around the state,'' said spokeswoman Clarissa Lundeen at the Washington Transportation Department.

At a shelter at North Thurston High School in Olympia, 50 miles south of Seattle, evacuees were losing patience.

``I broke down yesterday, really started crying,'' said Sharon Smith, 36, at the shelter with her children, ages 12, 5 and 2. ``The worst of it is that the kids can't play without disturbing other people. They're bored out of their minds, and they keep wanting to know, when can we go home?''

Seattle's morning rush-hour traffic moved at full speed on roads that finally were merely wet, not covered with glare ice and foot-deep snow. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was operating normally again but was jammed with travelers scrambling to head home at last.

But Seattle got nearly 3 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending around daybreak Monday, with about a half-inch more expected by the end of today. And the temperature climbed into the high 40s, more than 20 degrees above the temperature during the height of the wintry blast.

The combination of rain and melting snow created new dangers.

The National Weather Service warned people living along seven western Washington rivers - the Cowlitz, Chehalis, Skokomish, Willapa, Skookumchuck, Deschutes and White - to prepare for mostly minor flooding from snowmelt and rain.

The Army Corps of Engineers provided 20,000 sandbags to communities in the state's southwest corner.

In Oregon, authorities set up sandbag distribution centers. Warnings were posted on many western Oregon rivers, including the Willamette.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 31, 1996
Words:362
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