Storm causes localized flooding in Clark County

More wind, rain expected today

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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Heavy rains mixed with strong wind gusts Sunday night to knock limbs from trees and clog storm drains, causing power outages and localized flooding Monday. Today’s forecast calls for more of the same.

High water was reported on arterial roadways throughout Clark County, causing traffic issues.

Standing water closed Mill Plain Boulevard between Southeast 172nd Avenue to Southeast 192nd Avenue late Monday morning for about two hours while crews worked to unclog storm drains, according to emergency dispatchers.

In the north part of the county, Clark County Public Works crews put up signs advising motorists of high water on Northeast 72nd Avenue between 179th Street and 199th Street, said the department’s spokesman, Jeff Mize.

“We’ve seen isolated cases of water over the roadway,” Mize said. “We often see these types of issues when we see major rains.”

More than an inch of rain fell in Vancouver on Monday before giving way to mixed clouds and a few sun breaks. The rain added to the 0.86 inch that fell over the weekend.

Washington State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Abbi Russell said that Sunday night’s storm was nothing compared to the first part of the weekend. Crews were slammed, she said, responding to 34 rock slides on Friday and another nine on Saturday.

Sunday night brought winds with gusts measured at up to 35 mph at Pearson Field. The wind knocked trees onto power lines and cut power to more than 5,000 customers.

The biggest outage was reported in the 10 p.m. hour, with a majority of the customers living in the Vancouver area, said Clark Public Utilities spokeswoman Erica Erland. Power was restored to nearly all customers by 9 a.m. Monday.

“It was a big night for our crews; they worked around the clock,” Erland said. “We had a handful of larger outages in downtown Vancouver area, which doesn’t happen often.”

Eight smaller power outages were scattered around the county, she said.

“It was all wind and rain,” Erland said. The outages were caused by “big trees, saturated soil and heavy winds. It’s hard on an electric system.”

Emergency personnel were called to the Columbia River about 1:45 p.m. for an unoccupied rowboat that capsized and washed up underneath the Interstate 5 Bridge. It was a likely victim of the storm, though authorities could not immediately confirm that.

Another storm is poised to hit the region today, said Clinton Rockey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.

The new weather system, Rockey said, would bring some rain but “none of those gutter-overflowing-type downpours like this weekend.”

But winds today could reach as high as 45 mph in the flat parts of the region.

“It’s more of the same for us,” Rockey said. “This is the winter that’s trying to catch up from such dry, mild weather in November and December.”

Up to an inch of additional rain is forecast to fall on the Vancouver area today. Showers are forecast for the rest of the work week.

In Oregon

Wind gusts knocked down branches and caused power outages on the Oregon Coast and in the Willamette Valley.

The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning through late today for the north and central Oregon Coast, predicting that wind gusts could approach 70 mph on the beaches.

Portland International Airport lost power from 2 to 5 a.m. Monday, but backup generators took over and the airport remained open.

Flooded river basins took on 2 inches of rain over the weekend, prompting flooding in some areas, while landslides and rock slides blocked roads in the Columbia River Gorge and northwest Portland.

Interstate 84 reopened between Troutdale, Ore. and Hood River, Ore., about 1 p.m. Monday. Crews spent five days removing 3,000 cubic yards of rock and debris from a landslide on Wednesday evening about three miles east of Hood River that blocked three of the interstate’s four lanes.

Authorities have issued a warning for debris flow in the Gorge through 5 p.m. tonight and travelers should be aware of the possibility of falling rocks and sliding mud.

Heading north

Heavy snow and dangerous driving conditions closed Snoqualmie and Stevens passes early Monday. The passes reopened by late afternoon, but chains were required. For the latest closures or restrictions, visit http://www.wsdot.com/traffic.

A mud slide was blocking a major road into and out of the city of Pacific in King County. King County sheriff’s deputies say an unoccupied car was swept up in the slide, but no one was hurt.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.