October through March are the wettest months for the Olympic National Forest. During this time, storms can cause road washouts, debris flows, or flooding events. The historic Category 5 atmospheric river event in November brought significant flood damage resulting in potentially long-term road closures.
“Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2017.
Between November 12 and 15, an atmospheric river event dropped heavy rainfall on areas that were already saturated from recent storm events. Increased runoff from the event triggered multiple debris flows which impacted Forest Service Roads and caused 10 major road failures.
As a result of this damage, several roads in the northwest portion of the Olympic National Forest have been closed and will remain closed for up to two years until repairs can be made. We urge visitors to respect all road closure signs. In some locations remaining asphalt may not be adequate to support vehicular or pedestrian traffic, and some stretches of road have been completely washed out.
Restoring access to these areas is among the Forest’s top priorities. Forest Service staff have assessed the damage and are actively seeking funding through Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) and other sources to pay for needed repairs.
· Forest Service Road 29 (Sitkum-Solduc Rd / “A” Road) – Closed between mileposts 2.7 and 33.5
· Forest Service Road 2922 – Closed at about milepost 2.0 for the rest of the roadway
· Forest Service Road 2923 – closed at milepost 12 when driving from Cooper Ranch Road
· Forest Service Road 2932 (Bogachiel Rd / Undi Rd) – Closed about 4.3 above private lands
· Forest Service Road 30 – Closed between milepost 8.5 to 10.5
Alerts and Notices can be found at, https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/olympic/alerts-notices. Use care when traveling within the Forest throughout the rainy season and report road issues to your local Olympic National Forest Office.
For any additional questions feel free to contact the Olympic National Forest online, or call (360) 956-2402. For the most current updates about the Olympic National Forest, please follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/olmypicnf and Twitter at https://twitter.com/olympicforest.