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Rain, high winds buffet Oregon, Washington

Nov. 20, 2012 at 7:06 AM   |   Comments

SEATTLE, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Heavy rains and wind left thousands of customers in Oregon and Washington without power, triggered mudslides and threw a wrench into the evening commute.

Crews scrambled to restore power to more than 30,000 customers left in the dark Monday after the stormy weather blew through, The (Portland) Oregon reported Tuesday.

In Washington, more than 2 inches of rain fell in the Seattle metropolitan area, with higher amounts reported along the coast and the hills.

Along the northern Oregon and southern Washington coast, winds howled at hurricane-force strength, reaching triple digits in some exposed areas, The Oregonian reported.

A Washington state trooper and another driver escaped injury when a tree fell on the trooper's car Monday morning, state police said. The trooper had stopped for a mudslide on U.S. Route 101 and another car pulled up beside him. A tree fell on top of the trooper's car, setting it on fire.

The trooper escaped through the passenger door as the fire started, then broke the window of the other car to free the other driver, state police said. The trooper then went back to his patrol car to retrieve his weapons so the ammunition wouldn't explode.

State police reported downed trees along U.S. 101 and other highways.

Wind gauges near the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which straddles Oregon and Washington, reported a gust reaching 101 mph, the Oregonian said. In Naselle, Wash., a wind gauge set in the Willapa Hills reported a gust of 114 mph.

In Seattle and the Central Puget Sound area, city transportation and utility crews worked to clear clogged storm drains in areas where water backed up into traffic lanes.

Troopers in King County, Wash., reported 66 car crashes through 4 p.m. Monday, just ahead of the evening commute, The Oregonian said.

Mudslides affected passenger train service from Seattle to points north. Sound Transit canceled Northline Sounder service between Seattle and Everett while Amtrak said service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia would be disrupted until at least Wednesday because of a required 48-hour waiting period after a mudslide.

In Everett, Wash., heavy rains caused 10 of 12 combined sewer outfalls to overflow into the Snohomish River and Port Gardner Bay, the city said. Officials said local agencies, including state departments of Health and Ecology, the Snohomish Health District and the Port of Everett, were alerted.

In the mountains, heavier rains prompted flood warnings along the Skokomish, Chehalis and Newakum rivers. Meteorologists said moderate flooding was expected on the Newakum and Chehalis and minor flooding on the Skokomish.

More storms were forecast. AccuWeather.com said Tuesday's storms shouldn't be as strong as Monday's, but would bring in colder air, followed by another system that is expected to move into the area Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Seattle, Portland and surrounding areas could see an inch or 2 of rain more; however, the heaviest rain likely will fall across southwestern Oregon and parts of northern California, where 4 inches is possible.

The Cascade Mountains could see several feet of snow, depending on elevation, forecasters said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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