Oregon braces for powerful winds, heavy snow

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Communities across Oregon are preparing for a new punch from Mother Nature as forecasters warn of hurricane-force wind gusts on the coast overnight and heavy snow in the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascades.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for the mountains until Wednesday afternoon. A less-severe winter weather advisory was in effect for the Willamette Valley, but forecasters backed off earlier forecasts that significant snow was possible in Portland.

Strong winds were expected along the entire Oregon coast, with particularly powerful gusts from Lincoln City south. Road crews had chain saws ready to chop up toppled trees, and the Coast Guard was tying down equipment to protect it from powerful wind gusts.

Forecasters say rising rivers will be the new concern on Thursday and Friday.