Unusually heavy rain this week and a melting snowpack have pushed the Columbia River to near flood stage from Vancouver to Longview, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters issued a flood watch early Sunday morning for areas along the Columbia in the greater Vancouver and Portland metro areas, as well as along the lower Columbia and Interstate 5 corridor in Cowlitz County.
As of noon Sunday, the river had risen to 15.56 feet in Vancouver and covered a portion of the Waterfront Renaissance Trail in Vancouver, blocking the path east of where it splits off from Southeast Columbia Way.
The rising river levels follow an unusually wet stretch of weather fueled by an atmospheric river of subtropical moisture, which brought 1.44 inches of rain to Vancouver’s Pearson Field in a 48-hour period ending Saturday evening.
Flood stage in Vancouver is 16 feet, and forecasters with the National Weather Service say river levels will approach that level repeatedly through late Wednesday morning.
At 16 feet, minor flooding occurs, affecting islands and low-lying areas, with minor impacts on parks or trails along the river, according to the National Weather Service.
If the forecast holds true, this will be the highest the Columbia has crested since March 2017, when river levels reached 17.43 feet, according to National Weather Service Data.
Forecasters advised residents and those with interests near the river to monitor rising water levels and be prepared for possible flood warnings.