Even up here in the Skagit Valley - the Skagit River carries the 3rd largest volume on the west side of the US; Only the Columbia and the Sacramento deliver more water to the Pacific. It rains a fair to large amount in the Skagit watershed. The North Cascades, from whence it comes, get a great deal of snow. We SEE a lot of water; more than we like. Superficially, one might think that we should have no shortage of water. We can't necessarily count on it. It's not just the Skagit, either; all of the rivers in Western Washington are affected as well, as are, to some extent, the rivers on the east side of the Cascades.
Originally Posted by Vaughn
Two conditions that I know of (maybe there are others?) have a way of causing major flooding. The flooding results in the depletion of the stored water, as well as causing serious damage to communities downstream. We can sometimes have a lot of precipitation in a year which nonetheless leaves us experiencing drought conditions.
One of these conditions is the "Pineapple Express" - a stream of warm, wet air coming straight from Hawaii. By straight, I mean just that; a straight line of clouds that heads right for Puget Sound and the Straights of Georgia. As the warm air moves northward, it cools and dumps a great deal of rain. The warm air and rain melts accumulated snow. Typically, this happens several times / year. Flying from Honolulu to Seattle once, we got on the plane in the sun, then followed the clouds all the way to Seattle and disembarked to find it raining very hard. We wanted to get back on the airplane and go right back. Of course, all of the rivers were flooding.
The other condition is when we get early hot days in the spring. This simply melts the snow. By spring, we are about ready for some sun, but when we get it, flooding can be on its way. Some years, it is very strange. Thinking we are getting lots of rain, we can still be in a drought.
These floods and their aftereffects in drought years have disastrous effects on the salmon runs and agriculture both on the west side of the Cascades and the east side too. A few years back, we had sequential drought years; it was hard for the orchards to stay in business.
BTW, dances-w-clouds, we get the same winds that Victoria gets... Sometimes, out on the flats, at or very close to hurricane force. The water is flat; the land is flat. Two storms blew down a local barn two years ago. The first one got most of it; the second finished the job a week later.