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Oregon, Idaho residents brace for icy rain after snow

Crews work to de-ice planes at Portland International Airport on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Portland. Residents in Idaho and Oregon braced for treacherous roads and the possibility of nuisance flooding Sunday as freezing rain coated parts of the region. (Mark Graves / Oregonian)
Crews work to de-ice planes at Portland International Airport on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Portland. Residents in Idaho and Oregon braced for treacherous roads and the possibility of nuisance flooding Sunday as freezing rain coated parts of the region. (Mark Graves / Oregonian)
Associated Press

BOISE – Residents in Idaho and Oregon braced for treacherous roads and the possibility of nuisance flooding Sunday as freezing rain coated parts of the region.

After record snowfall last week prompted government leaders to declare a state of emergency for the Boise area, many stores were out of bottled water, snow shovels and sandbags.

Fearing the rain could cause roughly 15 inches of accumulated snowfall to quickly melt, some law enforcement agencies in southwestern Idaho urged residents to dig out pathways away from their home and uncover any nearby storm drains if possible. The pathways are intended to create a drainage system, in hopes of mitigating any nuisance flooding.

Elizabeth Duncan with the Idaho Office of Emergency Management said it is monitoring conditions statewide, with the potential for flooding from ice jams on the Snake, Salmon, Lemhi and Big Wood rivers and tributaries.

Meanwhile, businesses and homeowners were working Saturday and Sunday to get snow off of rooftops, porches and decks, fearing that the additional weight from the rain could cause structures to collapse.

Oregon travelers were also facing big problems, with most flights canceled at the Portland and Eugene airports and the Oregon Department of Transportation advising motorists to stay home if possible because of icy conditions. Chains were required on several roads, and some eastern and central Oregon highways completely closed to drivers.

In Portland, authorities said a woman died in a downtown parking garage, and her death may have been caused by exposure to the cold weather.

Sgt. Pete Simpson told local TV station KGW police were told that a 52-year-old woman appeared to be struggling in the cold and was removing her clothing in the garage on Saturday afternoon. When officers and medics arrived, she was dead.

Simpson said a medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

In Klamath Falls, a 40-year-old woman sustained serious injuries on Saturday after she was struck by a pickup while sledding down a neighborhood road.

Klamath Falls Police Chief Dave Henslee told the Herald and News newspaper that the victim “sustained some very significant injuries” and was transported to Sky Lakes Medical Center. Henslee said an investigation determined the driver didn’t have time to see the victim before the collision and wasn’t at fault.

The weather was less extreme across most of Washington, though roads were closed in Benton and Yakima counties in Central Washington on Sunday because of blowing snow and drifts.

The National Weather Service was also warning residents in the Cascades and Cascade foothills of winds reaching 40 mph and gusts of up to 60 mph on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, widespread power outages from equipment failures and downed power lines affected thousands of Seattle residents and the University of Washington campus for a time on Sunday afternoon.

Sports fans in Washington and Oregon also felt the sting of the cold, when the winter storm forced No. 5 Gonzaga’s game at Portland to be postponed Saturday night. A makeup game will be played at the Chiles Center in Portland, but the date had not yet been determined.

NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers also postponed their scheduled Saturday game against the Detroit Pistons until Sunday evening.

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