Northwest Oregon pummeled by rain; forecast: more storms
Dec. 09, 2015
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon and the rain are synonymous — but the downpours that have caused flooding, landslides and evacuations in the state this week are getting to be too much even for the Pacific Northwest.
Residents in the Portland area and throughout northwest Oregon and southwest Washington were pummeled by a second barrage of heavy rains on Tuesday, as rain continued to soak already saturated ground, bringing some area creeks and rivers to flood stage.
Officials predicted that residents could face a repeat of Monday's scenario: streets turned into creeks, flooding near rivers and streams, landslides and delays in traffic and mass transit. Some buildings and residences were stacking up sandbags to prevent further flooding. Multiple flood warnings were issued Tuesday for Oregon and Washington rivers.
Amtrak on Tuesday closed tracks between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, because of high waters north of Portland Union Station. Passengers using the Amtrak Cascades service will be taken by bus around the closed areas. Coast Starlight and Empire Builder trains will be rerouted through the area.
Earlier Tuesday, commuter train and Amtrak services were cancelled between Seattle and Everett because of a landslide on the tracks. Train service will be halted until at least Thursday morning, part of a mandatory waiting period as tracks are inspected.
The Oregon Department of Transportation closed all lanes of Highway 30 Tuesday afternoon south of St. Johns Bridge in Portland due to a landslide leaving trees and debris across the road. Officials had partially opened the road by Tuesday evening but weren't expected to fully open it until sometime Wednesday.
As of about 8 p.m. Tuesday, about 2,500 customers were without power in the Puget Sound region while nearly 5,000 customers were experiencing power outages in the Portland area.
Even before the downpour returned Tuesday, several of the previously flooded streets remained closed throughout the area. The state Department of Transportation said parts of several highways in western Oregon were closed because of high water.
Officials were also trying to figure out how to repair massive sinkholes that had opened up on Monday — one in front of Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, a Portland suburb, and another on Highway 22 in Yamhill County. The college remained closed on Tuesday.
Several school districts cancelled classes or evening activities. The Oregon Zoo remained closed for the second day in a row. Officials in Gladstone issued a health alert after raw sewage overflowed into the Clackamas River.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department also issued a beach safety alert on Tuesday for coast visitors, as strong winds and extremely high waves are in the forecast. A high wind warning remains in effect until early Wednesday morning, with gusts on beaches and headlands potentially reaching up to 70 mph, the National Weather Service reports.
The service predicts waves could break on shore at up to 40 feet high — higher than a two-story building — tossing logs and debris on shore. Already, several beach areas have been closed because of flooding and winds. A flood watch is also in effect on the central coast through Thursday.
The heavy rains didn't stop the Portland Timbers' victory parade celebrating the team's MLS Cup championship.
Even more rain is scheduled to fall in the region on Wednesday and into Thursday. The rains are caused by several low-pressure systems moving through the region, one after the other, forecasters said.
Officials say residents should avoid traveling and should watch for flash floods, mudslides, falling trees and power outages. They are also advised to keep children and pets away from floodwaters and avoid walking and driving through high water. Residents whose property is at risk for flooding should use sandbags.