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Gritty ash from Mount St. Helens dusted the Portland...

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Gritty ash from Mount St. Helens dusted the Portland area early today, moved southwest to sprinkle the northern edge of Salem and spread about 150 miles to the Pacific coast.

State Police advised motorists to reduce their speeds on major highways.

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Before the morning rush hour no major problems had been reported as a result of the ash but police said some ash was being blown up by traffic in the metropolitan area. A heavy fog was causing more problems for motorists than the ash, police said.

A spokesman for Tri-Met said buses were moving normally through the layer of ash.

The ash cloud reached as far as Lincoln City and Newport, about 150 miles away.

Three hours after the volcano erupted at 10 p.m. Thursday, ash began falling in north Portland, 50 miles southwest of the mountain. Very light amounts fell in the downtown area; the suburban areas southwest of Portland received slightly more ash.

'You can see it laying on the street, but it's not covering up the lane markers,' a Beaverton police officer reported.

State police said the gritty, sand-like ash was kicked up by cars and mixed with ground fog, reducing visibility to about 100- to 150-feet in some areas. Travelers were advised to keep their speed below 45 mph on area freeways.

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The fallout began about 1 a.m. in north Portland, and stopped about 1:40 a.m. The cloud of ash moved slowly to the southwest, dusting suburban areas which were hit hard by the ash in late May and early June.

Those earlier eruptions caused extensive damage to berry crops which were just maturing when the fallout began.

The National Weather Service office in Portland issued an ash fallout warning for Clark County in Washington state, and Multnomah and Washington counties in Oregon.

Wind patterns indicated the ash might fall throughout much of western Oregon in an area east of a line from Mount St. Helens to North Bend on the coast, and west of a line from the volcano to Klamath Falls in southern Oregon, the weather service said.

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