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April 16, 2021

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Storm causes power outages, landslides in Clark County

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter, and
, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:
4 Photos
Stormy winter weather caused a small landslide Wednesday about a half-mile southeast of Daybreak Bridge in the 24700 block of Northeast 92nd Avenue in Battle Ground. Clark County Public Works crews planned to close Northeast Manley Road near where it becomes 92nd Avenue.
Stormy winter weather caused a small landslide Wednesday about a half-mile southeast of Daybreak Bridge in the 24700 block of Northeast 92nd Avenue in Battle Ground. Clark County Public Works crews planned to close Northeast Manley Road near where it becomes 92nd Avenue. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

An overnight storm left a wake of disruptions in Southwest Washington and the Portland metro area Wednesday, with numerous power outages and landslides impeding traffic in Clark County and into the Columbia River Gorge and toward the Oregon Coast.

The National Weather Service in Portland is combing through hundreds of reports from across its coverage area, which stretches from the coasts of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon to east of the Cascade Range.

The storm brought heavy rain and wind to the region Tuesday night. Rain totals varied around Clark County, but overall, Vancouver saw 1 inch to 1.25 inches of rain. The rain totals increased nearer the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, National Weather Service meteorologist David Bishop said.

Among the notable measurements locally were 3 inches recorded on Larch Mountain, 1.25 inches at Pearson Field and about 1.6 inches in Washougal, he said.

Gusts of wind also persisted through the weather event. Pearson Field saw a 39 mph gust. Winds in Battle Ground ranged between 30 and 35 mph. Longview’s winds topped out around 35 mph, according to the meteorologist.

Downed trees, landslides

The wind and saturated soil brought down several large trees overnight in Clark County.

“It was definitely a wet and windy night all throughout the county,” said Magan Reed, communications manager for Clark County Public Works. “We were very fortunate there was no flooding, considering the heavy rain.”

Crews started responding to calls around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, and once it was daylight, they discovered a few more issues. They planned to be out working for much of the day.

A large tree fell into a power line at Northeast Bradford Road and Northeast 275th Avenue, prompting a road closure. Reed said crews were still working in that area, and there was no status update for it.

A tree caught fire from a downed power line at Northeast Blair Road in Camas, and another tree was cleared after it fell on Northeast Jenny Creek Road in La Center.

Reed said county Public Works was not aware of any resulting injuries or property damage.

Loretta Callahan, a spokeswoman for Vancouver’s Public Works Department, said downed trees were the biggest issue but that crews responded to localized areas of water on the road. Crews started responding to calls just before midnight, she said.

They closed Norris Road between East Fourth Plain Boulevard and East 18th Street for downed power lines that Clark Public Utilities crews were working on, Callahan said.

There was a mild landslide about a half-mile southeast of Daybreak Bridge in the 24700 block of Northeast 92nd Avenue in Battle Ground caused by heavy rain and high water. County crews were assessing the damage and planned to close Northeast Manley Road near where it becomes 92nd Avenue, Reed said.

Work there can’t start yet, Reed said, because it’s a fish-bearing stream and requires a biological opinion first.

In a news release, the department asked residents to avoid flooded areas on trails in county parks. The heavy overnight rain caused minor flooding on portions of the Daybreak Regional Park Trail and Salmon Creek Greenway Trail. The flooded portions have been taped off with posted signs to restrict pedestrian access.

Crews anticipated the water would recede in the next 24 to 48 hours. Anyone who encounters a flooded area can report it at https://www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/report-park-road.

Mike Dolan, who maintains roads in the southern portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, said most of the forest’s roads have already been closed for the season; if winds and rain caused any damage, repairs will be more apparent when the snow melts.

Rivers and creeks near Trout Lake rose over the banks, but there were no major issues in the area, Dolan said.

A debris slide about 7 miles east of Carson closed all lanes of state Highway 14 at Milepost 55 for hours. Crews with the Washington State Department of Transportation worked Wednesday to clear the highway, and the lanes reopened around 1:30 p.m.

WSDOT has closed Highway 14 to heavy truck travel between Milepost 19 east of Washougal and the Hood River Bridge near Milepost 65 in White Salmon.

Landslides also affected the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 east of Troutdale, Ore., and limited traffic on U.S. Highway 30 near Saltzman Road north of Portland. West Burnside was closed in Portland near Southwest Barnes Road because of downed trees. It was expected to remain closed through Wednesday afternoon.

Power outages

There were a couple dozen calls on the PulsePoint app for downed wires across Clark County.

Clark Public Utilities issued an all-hands-on-deck approach at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Maintenance crews and other departments had been working around the clock since that time to assess damage and restore power to customers countywide, spokesman Dameon Pesanti said.

An estimated 12,000 customers lost power at some point during the weather event, according to the utility.

“We’ve had days of rain that heavily saturated the soil. That coupled with the wind storm last night is all it takes to topple a high number of trees across our service area,” Pesanti said.

There were several crews in north Clark County that had been working 11 hours straight as of Wednesday afternoon. The crews were clearing fallen trees and other debris, Pesanti said. Their largest job was at East 18th Street and Norris Road. Despite the full workload, the utility was pleased with its progress throughout the day, he said.

As many as 100,000 people in the Portland area were without power Wednesday morning, according to KOIN.

The storm moved out of the area Wednesday morning, and flood advisories from the National Weather Service were lifted. Today’s forecast for Vancouver and the surrounding area calls for fog before 1 p.m. Otherwise, it’s predicted to be mostly sunny, with a high of 51 degrees. Calm winds likely will be followed by rain between 11 p.m. today and 5 a.m. Friday, according to the weather service.

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