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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Pacific NW

Northwest winter storm leaves outages, possible flooding

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 15, 2021

Associated Press

Associated Press

SEATTLE – A winter storm that blanketed the Pacific Northwest caused lingering problems Monday, with hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon still in the dark after heavy snow and ice brought down tree branches this weekend and blocked storm drains in Washington state and Idaho, raising concerns about flooding.

Portland General Electric’s map of power outages listed about 270,000 customers without electricity Monday afternoon, most in Clackamas County. Nearly 5,000 power lines were brought down by ice and tree limbs and multiple transmission lines were severely damaged by the storm that swept through.

Interstate 84 in Portland was closed for several hours so crews could repair powerlines and prevent them from falling onto the freeway.

In Troutdale, Oregon, snow and ice caused a section of a roof to collapse into a grocery store. Authorities said one minor injury was reported.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who over the weekend declared a state of emergency for the greater Portland area, urged people to avoid roads because of treacherous conditions as crews scrambled to restore electricity.

“Utilities in our region have never experienced such widespread outages, including during the September 2020 wildfires,’ Brown said in a statement. “Check on your neighbors and loved ones when you can do so safely. Please help our first responders by staying home when you can.”

Officials in Boise were concerned about thousands of storm drains that could be clogged by snow and ice, causing flooding.

“I’m sure you’ve driven through an area with a huge puddle,” Nicole DuBois, chief communication officer for the Ada County Highway District told Boise TV station KTVB. “The reason that is happening is because the storm drain in the area is clogged with something and preventing that water from draining through.”

Flooding was also a concern in Western Washington as milder Pacific air arrived, with snow melting, storm drains clogged and rain expected.

“We suggest getting out shovels or finding a way to clear that out so that when it does rain and all the snow melts, the water will have a place to go,” said Courtney Carpenter, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

The winter weather wasn’t giving up its grip in the Cascade Range, where heavy snowfall was expected at times all week and into the weekend. Washington transportation officials closed the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass to do avalanche control work overnight.

Mountain passes could see 15 to 30 inches of new snow through Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, snow-packed roads, downed trees and power lines made travel in the Portland area treacherous.

Officials canceled all service on the Portland Streetcar and only a few light rail routes were operating. Bus routes throughout the city were delayed, detoured or canceled.

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