Heavy rain causes Edmonds flooding; mudslide cancels Sounder commuter train

The Edmonds Marsh after a full day of rain, with the water reaching the boardwalk. (Photo by Bill Anderson)
The Edmonds Marsh after a full day of rain, with the water reaching the boardwalk. (Photo by Bill Anderson)

As heavy rain continued to deluge Edmonds Thursday, saturated soils and drainage problems — combined with high tides — have resulted in a “perfect storm” of conditions at a traditional trouble spot: the intersection of Highway 104 and Dayton Street, just south of the Edmonds Ferry Terminal.

And according to City of Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams, the hands of city officials are tied when it comes to mitigating flooding there, given current conditions.

Flooding at the Dayton Street/Highway 104 intersection. (Photo by John Lewis)
Flooding at the Dayton Street/Highway 104 intersection. (Photo by John Lewis)

“The tides have been high (King tides) and the rain today is very intense,” Williams said in an email Thursday. “On top of that, we have experienced very wet conditions for the last month which has saturated any available soils that might otherwise allow some of the run-off to infiltrate and you have the “perfect storm” of conditions for flooding at that intersection.”

Future help is on the way for the Dayton Street problem, Williams added. For starters, the city is now designing a new stormwater pumping station that will be built in the Beach Place parking lot on the Edmonds waterfront. “This should dramatically reduce the potential for flooding at Dayton/SR104 in the future,” he said, noting however that it will be at least two years until that project is in place. In addition, the city is working on the Willow Creek Daylighting Project, “which will make major improvements in the environmental and flood protection functions historically provided by the Edmonds Marsh. Together, the two projects will provide “a comprehensive solution to the problems we experience in that part of Edmonds,” Williams said.

Flooding problems aside, Williams pointed to the hard work of public works employees across Edmonds throughout the day Thursday, including servicing catch basins, unplugging clogged drains, and pumping out blind sumps to keep flooding to a minimum throughout town.

“We received around 15 calls for service related to rising water, water entering garages, high creek levels, etc.,” Williams added. “I am very proud of the work our crews do to keep public and private property protected at times like this.”

Waters rise around cars parked in the Salish Crossing parking lot. (Photo by John Lewis)
Waters rise around cars parked in the Salish Crossing parking lot. (Photo by John Lewis)

The city’s wastewater treatment plant also experienced very high flows Thursday afternoon due to the continual rainfall. By late afternoon, the plant was running at a 25 million gallons per day rate — about six times the normal dry weather flow rate,” Williams said. “So far we are coping with it fairly well.”

There was also another predictable result to the ongoing rain: A mudslide over the railroad tracks south of Edmonds caused cancellation of the Sounder commuter train service both Thursday night and Friday morning. Sound Transit said that alternative bus schedules for Friday morning commuters would be available on the Sound Transit website by Thursday evening.


  1. With water like this can you imagine what it could be like when the tides are 2 ft higher. Council is considering a plan to raise the first floor of the planned senior center by only 2 ft. They should seriously consider raising the first floor by 4 ft or more considering the higher tides and rain. We should error on the side of safety especially when it comes to our seniors.

  2. Not only will the rising sea levels cause waterfront problems, but the inevitable tsunamis from a subduction zone earthquake off the coast make anyone in Edmonds living about 30 feet above the highest tides vulnerable. No one should be living on the waterfront west of the the railroad tracks or in the Harbor Square area. With what we know know, it is irresponsible of any government to allow residential units in those areas.

  3. It was pointed out during the public meetings regarding the daylighting of Willow Creek that:

    1) Culverts run under SR 104/Sunset Ave. which connect the “private” marsh on the east side of the highway with the “main/public” marsh on the west side of the highway,

    2) Drainage of the area is impaired because the culverts are clogged and/or collapsed, which contributes to the flooding,

    3) The city and state are engaged in a (to be polite) “fight” over re$pon$ibility for repairing/replacing/unclogging the culverts.

    Two or three years ago the city repaired many of the underground lines that drain the affected area, which includes the SR 104/Dayton St. intersection, Harbor Square, and Salish Crossing. These storm lines feed into Puget Sound through the marina or the marsh.

    This week’s “perfect storm” shows that further work needs to be done. Matters will only get worse if predictions of higher sea levels caused by global warming hold true.


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