Will this week’s floods be like 1996?

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Conditions are primed for flooding in our region in the next few days. But will it be as bad as the flood of February 1996?Hopefully not. 

Ahead of that flood, a heavy snowstorm was followed by freezing temperatures, and then a rapid warm up with lots of rain. Swollen rivers overflowed as every waterway in the area went to flood stage and beyond.

Many places, including Vernonia and lower Oregon City were buried under several feet of water. Floodwaters reached the sidewalks of RiverPlace in downtown Portland as the Willamette River rose to nearly 11 feet above flood stage.

It nearly breached the seawall in downtown, despite plywood, plastic and sandbags to hold the water back. The effort was called ‘Vera’s Wall’ for then Portland mayor Vera Katz.

The storm cost the millions of dollars in damage and eight people lost their lives.What to expect Tuesday – Thursday 

Although the conditions are similar to what we’re experiencing this week, they shouldn’t be as devastating.

“A couple of things are different this time. The water content, the snow pack in the coast range, is not as high as it was then. The Tualatin River level is not as high as it was in 1996. But we want to proceed with an abundance of caution, prepare for the worst and expect the best,” Mark Jockers with Clean Water Services tells KOIN 6 News.

A Flood Watch is in place Tuesday and Wednesday as 1.5″-3″ of rain is possible in the Willamette Valley. The rain will fall on top of 8″-12″ of snow already on ground.

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