Rain, wind blow through Clark County

Rainfall sets record for date, causes dozens of problems

By Marissa Harshman , Patty Hastings and Paul Suarez




• To get power outage updates or report an outage: Clark Public Utilities at 360-992-8000.

• When there's water on the roadway or plugged storm drains: city of Vancouver at 360-487-8177, after hours at 360-693-9302; Clark County Public Works at 360-397-2446.

• When there's water on the highways: Washington State Department of Transportation at 360-690-5367.

• For highway traffic, incident and closure information: WSDOT at 511.


• For traffic updates: Washington State Department of Transportation.

• To get updates on power outages: Clark Public Utilities.

• To request service when there's water on the roadway or plugged storm drains: City of Vancouver.

Downed power lines. Flooded streets. Hydroplaning cars. Monday's rain caused dozens of problems in Clark County.

The storm moving through Vancouver dropped 1.62 inches of rain through 9 p.m. Monday, exceeding the previous record for the date set in 1921. The day's heaviest rainfall was between noon and 4 p.m., said Paul Tolleson, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Portland.

The wet weather will continue through today and Wednesday, though the rain will be reduced to drizzle with breezes. Thunderstorms also are possible.

"The heaviest rain is over with," Tolleson said. "The next period that's probably dry is Thanksgiving Day."

On Monday, wind gusts in the Vancouver area reached 45 mph, with sustained winds around 25 to 30 mph, according to meteorologist Beth Burgess, who also is with the National Weather Service.

About 15 local power outages briefly put nearly 5,000 customers in the dark, said Clark Public Utilities spokeswoman Erica Erland. All except for one were caused by trees or limbs that fell onto power lines, including a 100-foot redwood tree that took out a power line Monday afternoon at 10605 N.E. Crest Ave., near a utility station.

About 360 customers were without power for about 20 minutes Monday morning after a tree fell on a power line along Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard. The outage was reported just after 9:45 a.m. near the intersection of Mill Plain and Southeast 120th Avenue, according to the Clark Public Utilities Outages Map. Erland said power was restored shortly after 10 a.m.

Most motorists were spared major problems on Clark County highways Monday. Washington State Patrol spokesman Will Finn said the agency didn't respond to any major crashes Monday, but that some local drivers attempted to plow through deep water and flooded their engines. There was standing water on exit 22 from Interstate 5 to Dike Road in Woodland, as well as the I-5 exit to 78th Street, he said.

Residents in some other areas of Clark County encountered standing water in places, including Southeast 164th Avenue and Southeast McGillivray Boulevard; Northeast 165th and Northeast 75th Circle; Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard and Southeast Park Crest Avenue; and Southeast 34th Street between Southeast 164th and 192nd Avenues.

"We have had some isolated issues. Any time you have a storm like this, you have potential for plugged drains," said Jeff Mize, spokesman for Clark County Public Works. "Obviously, there will be some standing water, and we remind people to drive safe."

In Vancouver, problems typically arise when leaves or some other objects are blocking storm drains, said Loretta Callahan, Vancouver Public Works spokeswoman.

If leaves are clogging a drain, city officials recommend residents use a rake or broom to clear the drain, if it can be done from the safety of the sidewalk.

City public works crews worked the swing and graveyard shifts Monday night, trying to clear some of the more than 13,000 stormwater catch basins in the city, Callahan said.

A tree fell onto Highway 14 at Cape Horn east of Washougal around 2:30 p.m. and was removed by highway workers by 3:19 p.m.

Routes to coast closed

No roads were closed in Clark County, however three Southwest Washington routes to the coast were closed.

U.S. Highway 101 was closed at the Astoria-Megler Bridge on Monday morning when high winds tipped a semi-truck over on the center span. State Highway 4 was closed from Jacobson Road to Mill Creek Road (mileposts 36 to 48) due to water over the roadway, along with state Highway 6 at Bilow Road to Frances (mileposts 13 to 17) and White Road, just west of the South Fork Chehalis River Bridge.

Four school buses serving Yacolt Primary School and Amboy Middle School were detoured Monday afternoon due to the weather, said Gregg Herrington, spokesman for Battle Ground Public Schools.

A tree fell into a power line at 22102 N.E. W.H. Garner Road, about two miles west of Yacolt. Two of the four buses had students aboard.

Heavy rain and strong winds pounded the Pacific Northwest, impacting not just roadways but railways as well, the state Department of Transportation reported. Two mudslides closed a track north of Seattle, with train traffic suspended for 48 hours. Passengers from affected trains were bused through the area. Train traffic will resume normal operations after 1 p.m. Wednesday, if the tracks remain clear, the department said.

Falling trees caused damage, power outages and even injured a Portland police officer. The officer was participating in ATV training on Hayden Island when a tree fell on him. The officer was in surgery at a Portland hospital Monday night. His name was not released.

A 100-foot cedar tree narrowly missed a house in Salmon Creek.

Robert Murphy, 59, was sitting in a recliner watching television when he heard a loud boom. He looked to his right and saw a tree just outside the living room window, about three feet from him.

"You can imagine my surprise," he said. "I look to my side and there's a tree next to me."

The cedar tree split and fell from his neighbor's yard, grazed the back of his house at 308 N.E. 134th Circle and landed in his backyard dog run.

"We could hear it just whoosh," said Murphy's wife, Sara, 54.

Although the tree broke two fences, the house appeared to be unscathed.

There were eight people in the house at the time, including six kids. Sara Murphy was worried about her 3-year-old daughter, who was in the back bedroom at the time.

"Those kind of events make you worry about the worst," she said.