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More than 30,000 people were urged to leave their flood-endangered western Washington homes as snowmelt and rain swelled rivers and caused mudslides and avalanches that engulfed neighborhoods and roadways. Warmer temperatures and heavy rains were rapidly melting the deep snow that dumped on the Cascade mountains over the weekend. Ten inches of snow melted in a 12-hour period at Snoqualmie Pass, according to Andy Haner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Rising waters led state highway crews to close a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 around Chehalis on Wednesday evening. Authorities feared Interstate 5, which carries 10,000 trucks a day, could be closed for days, just as it was in a similar flood in December 2007. (19 images)

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A truck drives down a flooded Interstate 5 in the Chehalis and Centralia area in SW Washington, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. AP / Bruce Ely / The Oregonian


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Snoqualmie Falls is seen from the air in Snoqualmie, Wash. on Thursday Jan. 8, 2009. AP / Seattle Times / Alan Berner



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A truck drives down a flooded I-5 in the Chehalis and Centralia area in SW Washington, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2008. AP / Bruce Ely / The Oregonian



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The flood waters of Dillenbough Creek cover Exit 77 of Interstate 5, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 in Chehalis, Wash. The highway has been closed since Wednesday. AP / The Seattle Times / Steve Ringman



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Flooding in southwest Washington in the Chehalis and Centralia area, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. AP / Bruce Ely / The Oregonian



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A barn and house are surrounded by Chehalis River flood water Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009, in Chehalis, Wash. Rain and high winds lashed Washington state Wednesday, causing widespread avalanches, mudslides, flooding and road closures from rapid snowmelt and the three main highways across the Cascade Range were closed. AP / Elaine Thompson



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Houses near Kalama, Wash. are seen surrounded by flooding in SW Washington on the Kalama river, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2008. AP / Bruce Ely / The Oregonian



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Jeannene Ramos, a worker at the farm watches the water slowly rise up the porch of her home, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 in Duvall, Wash. Floods, mudslides and avalanches in the Pacific Northwest kept tens of thousands of people from their homes Thursday, brought freight trains to a standstill and stranded hundreds of trucks along the major highways that link Seattle's busy ports with markets around the country. AP /The Seattle Times / Mike Siegel



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Long-time friends and neighbors Sandy Swenson, left, and Kathy Ellenberger embrace after visiting their flood-damaged homes in Puyallup, Wash., Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. The women had evacuated their homes at the Wheel In Motor Home park the evening before and returned Thursday to survey the damage. AP / The News Tribune / Janet Jensen



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Motorists push their way through high water on Highway 101, south of Gearhart, Ore., Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, as heavy rains and melted snow flooded rivers in western Washington. AP / The Oregonian / Thomas Boyd



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Cars and houses are flooded by the Puyallup River Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009, just outside Tacoma,Wash. This flooding occurred late Wednesday. AP / The Seattle Times / Barry Fitzsimmons



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Violet Thorp, 82, is comforted by her granddaughter Christy Reitan as she tries to sleep on a cot inside the gymnasium of Stanwood high school Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 after being evacuated from The Josephine Sunset Home, a senior home in Stanwood, due to flooding. AP / The Seattle Times / Chris Joseph Taylor



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Volunteers help sand bag an area along Highway 532 on the outskirts of downtown Stanwood, Wash. Thursday evening Jan. 8, 2009. Floods, mudslides and avalanches in the Pacific Northwest kept tens of thousands of people from their homes Thursday, brought freight trains to a standstill and stranded hundreds of trucks along the major highways that link Seattle's busy ports with markets around the country. AP / The Seattle Times / Chris Joseph Taylor



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David Archey, of Snohomish, Wash., navigates what was once the side yard of a Snohomish family while helping friends and family evacuate their home on Thursday Jan. 8, 2009. AP / The Herald / Kevin Nortz



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Gretchen Abernathy, right, who uses a wheelchair, is rescued from her home Thursday morning, Jan. 8, 2009, west of Snohomish, by firefighter Keith Simmons, after the Snohomish River flooded Abernathy's house. AP / The Seattle Times / Mark Harrison



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Abel Puris holds on to his hot tub after it was picked up by flood water from the Chehalis River in Centralia, Wash., Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. AP / Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Scott Eklund



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Ron Swenson, carries two Labrador puppies to dry ground at the Wheel In Motor Home between Tacoma, and Puyallup, Wash. on Thursday. Jan. 8, 2009. The pets had been stored in a vehicle since Wednesday evening when Swenson and his wife evacuated their home. AP / The News Tribune / Janet Jensen



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Frank Groce, left, helps build a makeshift bridge after flood waters from the Speelyai River trapped his hearing impaired 77-year-old sister at her home Thursday, Jan. 8, 2008, in Cougar, Wash. AP / Rick Bowmer



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Workers scramble to remove a building log jam on the Puyallup River in Fife, Wash. as the swollen river continued its record swell on Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009. Incoming tide at the river's delta and continued rain worried officials that the river would top levees and flood neighborhoods in Fife and Puyallup, Wash. AP / Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Joshua Trujillo



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