Landslide closes interstate, tornado reported as major storm slams Pacific …

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Dramatic storms easing up in Pacific Northwest.

Shane Van der Zwan walks across his driveway Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015 in Eugene, Ore., to survey damage after a large Douglas fir tree fell overnight during a wind and rain storm that hit the southern Willamette valley after midnight. (Brian Davies/The Register-Guard via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT Jefferson Fire District spokeswoman Tammy Robbins says renter Maria Lugo awoke to the sound of what she thought was pounding rain or hail. SEATTLE (AP) — Thousands of motorists were stranded Thursday during a major storm in the Pacific Northwest that caused a landslide that stopped all northbound traffic on a major highway connecting Washington and Oregon.

Forecasters say the storms that left two people dead, flooded rivers and caused mudslides, were easing up, but the threat from slides and flooding remained. “It was crazy and I was scared,” said Diane Smith of Lacey, Washington, who was stuck for three hours behind the landslide on Interstate 5 just 26 miles north of Portland, Oregon, and then drove a steep, windy mountain road to get around the slide. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in Washington on Wednesday after days of heavy rain caused rivers to rise, flooding and landslides across the western part of the state.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service say more landslides could be on the way, as rain soaked hillsides are expected to remain wet through the weekend. Hydrologist Andy Bryant in Portland, Oregon, says the team will determine if damage reported Thursday in the city of Battle Ground was caused by a tornado or just high winds.

Smith, who was driving her 6-year-old grandson and his other grandma back from Vancouver, Washington, probably made the wrong choice, according to the Washington Department of Transportation. On Wednesday afternoon, a woman was found dead inside a vehicle in knee-to-waist deep water in Clatskanie, Oregon, after firefighters rescued her husband found standing on top of the car. While the heavy rains have eased up, rivers are still raging across the Northwest and safety is a top concern as water flows down mountains into already swollen rivers.

Because there were no signs telling her where to go once she left the freeway, Smith made a choice that led her to the steep, winding Green Mountain Road above Woodland, Washington. AP journalists Gosia Wozniacka and Steven Dubois in Oregon and Ted Warren, Phuong Le, Manuel Valdes and Lisa Baumann in Washington state contributed to this story. Forecaster Kirby Cook says the strong weather systems are over for now, but people can expect steady rain of the usual winter variety over the weekend. Meteorologist Jon Bonk said Thursday that cities from Portland to the coast got two-tenths to a half-inch of rain overnight, and river levels should remain flat or recede. The mayor of Hamilton in Skagit County was asking for voluntary evacuations to high ground with the Skagit River expected to crest 10 feet above flood stage.

Heavy rain and wind has caused at least one death in the region. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola) Sections of a large fir tree that fell on a house overnight and killed an elderly woman rest in the yard in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. An elderly care center in McKenna was preparing for possible evacuations because of concerns engineers may have to release more water than normal from the Alder Dam on the Nisqually River. Puget Sound Energy, the largest electrical utility in western Washington, has restored power to about 60,000 customers and reported fewer than 17,000 power outages as of 4:45 p.m.

Wednesday, including the Snohomish River near Monroe and Snohomish, the Snoqualmie River near the falls and Carnation, the Cedar River in Renton, and the Green River near Auburn. Nothing like we’ve seen yesterday or the day before,” said Renner. “Over much of the Puget Sound area, a couple tenths of an inch of rain and heavier rainfall over the mountains; even there we’re talking 1-2 inches.” Winds will begin to pick up in the early morning hours in the central Puget Sound area, the foothills and south of Olympia. Sea-Tac Airport, where the official weather for Seattle is recorded, picked up 2.13 inches of rain Tuesday, beating the old Dec. 8 record of 1.61 inches.

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