Thousands in Oregon without power as snow turns to rain

Jan 18, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. — Western Oregon woke up to rain and slush instead of significant snow accumulations on Wednesday, but a storm that moved in overnight left thousands without power.

The winter weather brought 2 to 4 inches of snow to the region overnight, but temperatures warmed and it changed to rain, leaving a slushy mix on roads and trees.

Portland General Electric said about 30,000 of its customers were without power early Wednesday, and the utility was working to restore service to them.

Forecasters had backed off earlier projections that significant snow accumulation was possible in Portland. But it's too soon to give the all-clear as the storm moves through Oregon.

People living along the coast were braced for potential hurricane-force gusts during the day on Wednesday. Gusts as strong as 75 mph were expected in communities from Lincoln City south. Road crews had chain saws ready to chop up toppled trees, and the Coast Guard was tying down equipment.

"If it gets as strong as they're talking about, there will probably be some people losing shingles and that kind of stuff," said Jim Buisman, Lincoln County's public works director. "It's really hard to predict, of course. A lot's going to depend on just where it hits and how hard it hits."

The Coast Guard in Astoria secured its equipment and reminded mariners that river bars often close in severe weather, Petty Officer Shawn Eggert said.

People should check their safety equipment before taking out a boat or ensure it is safely moored if they're on land, he said.

Potential flooding is another concern for Western Oregon. Rain is expected to fall for several days, causing rivers to rise.