UPDATE 1-New band of rain to pound Pacific Northwest amid mudslide concerns

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Northwest Storms Ease Drought Fears; Mudslide Risks Remain.

SEATTLE — Fierce Northwest storms that sent rivers bursting from their banks, closed roads and produced a rare tornado have had one positive effect — easing summer drought concerns. The storms that killed at least two people in Oregon this week were tapering a bit, but forecasters said mudslide danger on the saturated hills would remain high through the weekend.

A rain-soaked hillside collapsed Wednesday north of Portland, Oregon, on the main highway connecting Washington and Oregon, stranding thousands of motorists on Interstate 5. Smith, who was driving her 6-year-old grandson and his other grandmother back from Vancouver, Washington, probably made the wrong choice, according to the Washington Department of Transportation. Officials used social media to discourage drivers from taking the mountain road without guardrails to get around the slide, but as Smith points out, she was driving, not checking her cellphone for updates.

The moisture is helping to fill reservoirs earlier and recharging the groundwater, said Scott Pattee, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service based in Mount Vernon. The storms also spawned a tornado that touched down Thursday in the southwest Washington city of Battle Ground, National Weather Service officials in Portland said.

Officials say the tornado damaged 36 homes and two commercial buildings as well as snapping power poles, downing trees and blowing away fences in a path 2 miles long.

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