Northwest boaters should check their vessels for flooding and instability because of the recent rain and snow, U.S. Coast Guard officials wrned.

The U.S. Coast Guard 13th District, a Seattle unit, issued a warning Wednesday to boaters that ice and snow accumulation on vessels can make them unstable and cause them to list (lean) or sink at the dock.

It is more likely for smaller boats and pleasure crafts to sink down to the water line and get swamped than other vessels, officials added.

Mark Dobney, group duty officer at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, said it is an especially good idea for individuals to check boats not attended to very often.

"With a heavy accumulation of snow and ice topside, it has a chance of filling up the boat and it's important to make sure it gets off of there," he said.

Dobney also cautioned boaters to check their bilge pumps - pumps designed to remove water out of the lower reaches of a boat.

Ice can clog or freeze the discharge area of the bilge pump, causing it to malfunction.

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