Western Washington residents flooded parks and picnic areas Sunday to take advantage of the glorious May weather.
But the sunny skies also led to a string of rescues and two deaths as adventurers took to area lakes and streams.
Temperatures hit a high of 83 degrees around 4 p.m. at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, just a few degrees shy of the record of 86, set in 1953. And today’s warm temperatures are expected to continue through Monday, a date with a record high of only 79 degrees, set back in 1957.
“Today is much warmer than is typical, but we didn’t set any new records,” said meteorologist Josh Smith at the National Weather Service in Seattle. “But tomorrow, we almost certainly will.”
The blue-sky day brought kids to playgrounds and college students to area beaches and also led kayakers and rafters to hit nearby waterways.
On the Stillaguamish River along state route 530 in Snohomish County, authorities received calls from several people around 2:30 p.m. who said a raft had overturned dumping a man and a woman into the water. The county’s marine services unit sent out rescue divers who eventually found both victims. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital, according to Lt. Kathi Lang at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Their names were not released.
An hour and a half later, Pierce County authorities started receiving calls about an accident on Spanaway Lake, where a 55-year-old man disappeared under water after another rafting accident. He is presumed dead, said Randy Stephens, assistant chief with Central Pierce Fire and Rescue.
Details of the accident were still unclear, but Stephens said that incident started about 3:50 p.m. when the man and two women were on either a raft or an inner tube that was being pulled behind a boat. Somehow the man fell off and disappeared under the water.
Pierce County Sheriff’s office sent out its dive team, which used specialized equipment to sweep the bottom of the lake. But by 5:15 p.m. it seemed increasingly unlikely that they would find the man alive, Stephens said.
“We’re moving from a rescue operation to a body recovery,” he said.
Northwest residents are urged to use caution in coming days, as the warm weather continues. Smith, at the weather service, said temperatures will remain high on Monday, and begin dropping into the 70s through the middle of the week with occasional scattered clouds. Highs may drop to the 60s by late week with rain not expected until at least Sunday.