The recent months in the Pacific Northwest have been very wet. It has felt like it was always raining and not just gentle rain but heavy rain on a regular basis. This means that there is plenty of water in the mountains and the rivers coming out of the Cascades are heavy with flow. I figured a trip up to Snoqualmie Falls was in order. A few months back I had been up there when the flow over the falls was very low.
With the two power stations built in to the falls, the demands that they put on the water often mean that there is a lot less to go over the falls themselves. Once the water levels get high, though, there is more than enough for everyone! The falls were really raging. The spray blowing up from the river was quite intense and, depending on which way the wind was blowing, you could either be quite dry or getting a deluge.
Since I made the visit, the weather hasn’t got any better. I imagine that the falls have continued to be in full flow ever since. Downstream, the river valleys have been in flood with the river levels all high. Hopefully no one is suffering too much – those areas are prone to flooding anyway and they tend to be ready for it.
Storms and rain have been a feature of the fall of 2021 in the Pacific Northwest. I was out with a buddy riding up the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County. Part of the trail, north of Arlington, takes you across an old rail bridge over the Stillaguamish River. The north and south forks of the river come together at this location and the combined river heads under the bridge and off towards Puget Sound.
The rivers were in flood and the amount of debris built up against the bridge was indicative of just how much damage the rivers had done on the local area. With two strong flows of water, the area where they came together was swirling with some violence. Whirlpools were popping up and heading downstream. Below the bridge, you could see upswellings of water from the lower levels and it looked like the sort of thing that would be very dangerous to find yourself in. The video I shot doesn’t really do it justice but you might get some sort of impression of how active it was.
November and December in Washington were pretty dry. For a state known for damp winters, we were rather lacking in rain. January and February decided to make up for that and we had days of rain and not just showers but really heavy rainfall. Local rivers are in flood all over the region. Snoqualmie Falls were on TV as the flow over the falls was raging. We have seen a variety of flow levels in our different visits based on river levels and the power generation requirements. This looked more than we had seen before and a visit seemed worthwhile.
We weren’t the only ones with this idea. Plenty of people were there and, talking to others after our visit, they all seemed to have visited too. The full width of the falls was covered and the roar of the crashing water was impressive. What was also dramatic was the impact on the viewing areas. The spray from the falls was being driven up the side of the rocks by the wind and so, while the surrounding area was dry, in the immediate vicinity of the falls, it was raining pretty heavily. One guy I talked to had his camera stop working it got so wet.
This made getting photos quite tricky. While the cameras I had were up to the task, keeping the front of the lens dry was a difficult task. The sun angle also meant any water on the lens was more conspicuous than normal. At first I tried to keep it clear but I soon gave up and just went with whatever I could get. We then went to the river in order to walk up towards the bottom of the falls. However, this had been closed off, presumably because of the river levels, so I couldn’t get the other shots I was hoping for.