Wild Northwest weather eases drought worries

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Pacific Northwest braces for landslides as lethal storms leave two dead.

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

Road closures in both states frustrated drivers who were trying to navigate alternate routes taking them hours out of their way. “It was crazy and I was scared,” said Diane Smith of Lacey, Washington, who was stuck for three hours behind the landslide on I- 5 about 26 miles north of Portland, and then drove a steep, windy mountain road to get around the slide. 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. 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.

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 two miles long.

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