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Tropical storm leaves power outages, flooding in its wake

UPDATE: Fire bureau responds to three times the number of emergency calls during windy weather


TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - A large oak tree succumbed to strong winds Saturday afternoon, damaging a truck and residence on Cedar Street in Forest Grove. More than 37,000 people across seven Northwestern Oregon counties were without power Saturday afternoon as a powerful wind storm blasted the region.

Portland General Electric reported that the storm knocked out power to about 37,500 customers from Portland to the mid-Willamette Valley. Nearly 11,000 of the customers were in Washington County. Multnomah County had about 10,400 customers without power by late Saturday afternoon.

The outages and several fallen trees disrupted TriMet’s Blue Line MAX trains. A fallen tree on Southwest First Avenue in downtown Portland also disrupted MAX trains. TriMet said shuttle buses were serving stations between Merlo Road and the Hatfield Government Center in Hillsboro.

TriMet’s Orange Line trains were stalled by commercial power outages in Southeast Portland.

Multnomah County officials said a section of Northwest Newberry Road in the West Hills was closed for more than an hour Saturday afternoon because of downed trees and power lines. The closure between Highway 30 and Skyline Boulevard was lifted after the tree was removed.

As the wind raged through the region, Portland Fire & Rescue responded to 62 emergency incidents between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, about three times the average number of emergency calls per hour.

Fire bureau officials said about 50 of the incidents were wind-related, including a tree onto a house. Thirty of the calls were about fallen power lines. Three incidents involved natural gas leaks, including a natural gas leak caused by a fallen tree.

No one was injured in the incidents, according to fire bureau officials.

COURTESY PHOTO: GREGG TOWNSLEY - Several people grabbed a large rope and began pulling McCuddy's Marine building (in the background) back to its dock at the Columbia River's Multnomah Channel in Scappoose after the large building broke free of its moorings in the high wind and rough water.Houseboats and vessels docked on in the Columbia River’s Multnomah Channel in Scappoose were rocked Saturday afternoon by the high winds. At about 2:30 p.m., the wind blasted through the area, whipping up white caps on the channel and causing McCuddy’s Marine business building to break loose from its moorage.

A small dock collapsed as the building floated away from the moorage, careening toward a nearby boat ramp. Harbormaster Phillip Batton of Portland and one other person were stuck for about an hour on the unmoored building.

About a dozen neighbors in the area grabbed a large rope and began hauling the marine building back to its dock.

COURTESY PHOTO: GREGG TOWNSLEY - Harbormaster Phillip Batton of Portland and one other person were stuck for about an hour on the unmoored McCuddy's Marina float as it careened toward the boat ramp Saturday afternoon.

Rain drenches the city

Friday night’s heavy rain flooded several Portland streets and highways, shutting down the Portland Streetcar for a short time and delaying MAX trains.

Sheets of rain hit the region shortly after 7 p.m., overwhelming storm drains. Southeast Powell Boulevard’s 17th Avenue underpass flooded, trapping at least one van in deep water. High water also closed an eastbound lane on Interstate 84 near its Lloyd Boulevard intersection.

MAX Green, Orange and Yellow lines were disrupted because of high water in downtown Portland. Green Line trains were only running between Rose Quarter Transit Center and Clackamas Town Center.

Several TriMet bus lines also were delayed by standing water on Southeast Division Street, Powell Boulevard and Bybee Street.

The heavy rain also sent sewage overflowing from the Alder Pump Station into the Willamette River. City officials said the combined flows of sewage and stormwater due to heavy rain in a short period of time exceeded the capacity of the pump station, causing the sewage to flow into the river.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, Metro decided to shut down the Oregon Zoo at 1 p.m. because of the storm's threat. Clackamas County also closed all its parks because of the looming storm.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DARRYL SWAN - Friday night's heavy rain flooded a section of Southeast Powell Boulevard at the 17th Avenue underpass. Several Portland streets were flooded by the storm that blew through the region at about 7 p.m.

'Rain and wind don't scare us'

Team Midnight won’t let a little rain, high winds and soggy streets stop its Friday Midnight Mystery bicycle ride through the city.

Team members promoted the ride on the Shift To Bikes email list. A representative says Friday night’s ride was still on schedule, even as a couple of big storms threaten the city and the Willamette Valley. The ride began at midnight at Dot’s Café, 2521 S.E. Clinton St. Riders were encouraged to celebrate the Halloween spirit by coming in costume.

“We ride every month, no matter the weather,” according to Team Midnight. “We’ve ridden in snow, ice, hail, etc. Rain and wind don't scare us.”

Friday night’s bicycle ride could be sloshy and wobbly, as the National Weather Service predicts heavy rain and blasting winds in the region through Saturday night, Oct. 15. Two big storms, the remains of Typhoon Songda, rolled up the coasts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia Thursday and Friday, dropping more than an inch of rain on the Portland area. Friday night’s storm could be less intense than the one expected Saturday evening, according to the weather service’s Portland office.

Meteorologist Matthew Cullen says Saturday’s storm, which is still developing offshore, could bring winds on the Oregon and Washington coasts as high as 40 to 50 miles per hour, with gusts of about 70 mph. Inland, winds could hit 25 to 40 mph, with nearly 50 mph gusts in some places, he says.

“If we do realize those winds speeds, it would certainly be one of the strongest storms in the region,” says Cullen, comparing the storm to one that hit the area in 1996 with high winds and drenching rains.

Two tornados spawned by the high winds were reported Friday morning on the Oregon Coast near Manzanita and Oceanside, according to the National Weather Service. The agency issued 10 tornado warnings Friday morning for areas along the coast, the most it has issued since 2005.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue spokesman Stefan Meyers says fire crews received 16 reports of downed power lines Thursday night and early Friday. The calls were scattered across the fire district, which stretches from Newberg to Beaverton and into West Linn.

Meyers says fire crews were preparing for next storm, making sure their equipment was ready to handle emergencies. “Crews were out Friday morning making sure that all the saws were working and they had adequate gas,” he says.

TriMet’s Blue Line MAX trains were delayed for nearly an hour Thursday night after a tree fell on westside tracks.

Thursday’s rain and wind also knocked out power to nearly 5,000 customers in seven Willamette Valley counties. Portland General Electric was working to restore power and preparing for Saturday’s storm.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND PARKS AND RECREATION - A soccer field at Delta Park was among those closed by Portland Parks and Recreation because of heavy rain.

Clogged storm drains

Typhoon Songda was the ninth typhoon this season, and the fourth most intense Pacific storm this year. Songda developed in the mid-Pacific, raked Japan early this month and then blew toward the Northwest, where its remains are expected to blast the region late Saturday.

State and local officials are warning residents to be prepared for power outages, falling debris and possible landslides. Portland Parks and Recreation closed all city-owned athletic and ball fields through Sunday as rain Thursday and Friday turned grass fields into soggy messes.

The closure impacts only grass fields. The city’s synthetic turf fields are still open for events, according to the bureau.

Parks officials will evaluate the fields’ conditions on Monday, Oct. 17.

Oregon’s Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on state highways as the storms blast through the area. Agency officials reported Friday morning that all highways were open, but small landslides had closed lanes Thursday night along Highway 101 and Oregon Highway 6 in Tillamook County. The lanes were reopened Friday morning.

ODOT maintenance crews will be on 12-hour shifts to respond to the storm. Crews will keep a close watch on trees in the coastal corridors, such as Oregon Highway 18, Highway 6 and the Sunset Highway. ODOT has removed trees along the highways that might fall in high winds. Previous storms have left the roads covered in downed trees and closed for hours, according to the agency.

Weekend bridge inspections on Interstate 5 in Portland have been canceled.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - A stormwater landscape swale or bioswale  at Northeast Weidler Street and First Avenue on Thursday night was trying to absord heavy runoff and prevent sewage entering the Willamette River.State Parks and Recreation Department officials said Friday that they might close some state parks on the coast because of the strong storms. People can check the website, bit.ly/2016oregoncoaststorm, for updates.

Portland’s Bureau of Transportation warned drivers to be on the lookout for standing water across the city. The bureau also asked the public to keep leaves and debris from clogging many of the city’s 58,000 storm drains, which can flood streets.

The bureau has tips for the public at its website bit.ly/pdxstormdrains. Travel safety trips are also at bit.ly/rainytravel.

Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services will monitor Johnson Creek, which often overflows in heavy rain. The creek could rise to the top of its banks by Friday or Saturday, but is not expected to flood, according to the bureau.

City crews have also stocked sand and sand bags at several locations:

Southeast 88th Avenue just south of Holgate Boulevard in the parking lot at Lents Park; Southeast 111th Avenue and Harold Street at the southeast corner of the intersection; and Southwest 42nd Avenue and Vermont Street in the lower parking lot of Gabriel Park; enter Gabriel Park from Vermont.

People can keep track of travel conditions and problems at www.PublicAlerts.org.