Heavy rains on the western coast of the United States have rendered thousands without power, nearly 50,000 of them being customers of Washington state electrical. The weather triggered floods and mudslides through the state, shutting off the main north-south highway near the Canadian border.

While partial recovery work is already underway, opening up Interstate 5’s southbound lanes, the opposite lanes remain shut. The heavy rains were induced by a phenomenon called an atmospheric river, which extended into Oregon.

Nearly 158,000 customers reported power outages in Washington when the storm was at its peak. Bellingham, a coastal city in the northwestern state, was forced to shut down schools for at least two straight days due to the disruptive weather.

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One person continues to missing in the Bellingham area after being spotted tackling floodwater, according to reports from Associated Press citing United States authorities.

Chaotic scenes were observed north of Washington’s capital city Seattle. Partially submerged cars and swamped business districts were spotted in the state, which recorded wind speeds of 96 kmph.

While multiple forecasters predicted that the state would witness drier conditions on Tuesday, the United States National Weather Service continued to issue flood warnings in Washington.

According to reports from the Skagit Valley Herald, dozens of residents of Hamilton were packed into the Red Cross’ evacuation site at the local Baptist Church, a place where multiple people also took shelter. 

Governor Jay Inslee declared a severe weather state of emergency in 14 counties and said the state Emergency Management Division, with support from the Washington National Guard, would coordinate the response.

West of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula, several highways were partially closed and the US Coast Guard helped local authorities evacuate about 10 people near the town of Forks. In nearby Quillayute, a daily record rainfall of 4.01 inches (10 centimeters) was set on Monday.

(With AP inputs)