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Power being restored; storm not as bad as feared


SEATTLE (AP) — Thousands of residents in the Pacific Northwest remained without power Sunday as the remnants of a potentially apocalyptic typhoon began to fizzle out.

Emergency crews in Oregon and Washington worked through the night to restore power lines and remove dozens of downed trees to clear roads that the storm had damaged over the past two days.

Meteorologists still expected rain and wind gusts as high as 30 mph throughout Sunday, but conditions were not expected to be as bad as predicted.

The storm was originally forecast to be one of the worst in recent history.

Officials with the National Weather Service said in a statement they plan over the next few weeks to study why the storm was not as extreme as anticipated.

Officials said several falling trees hit houses, and tens of thousands of people lost power. Police in Tigard, Oregon, said a driver and passenger escaped with minor injuries when a tree crushed their moving car.

Much of Central Oregon was under a wind advisory until 8 p.m. Saturday, with forecasters warning of southerly winds 20-25 mph could gust to 45-50 mph.

The Bend Airport recorded winds gusting to 41 mph and they reached 39 mph at Redmond Airport.

According to KGW, the NWS said winds likely had peaked in Oregon as the storm heads north into Washington. A high wind warning for the central Oregon coast and Coast Range were canceled, along with a wind advisory for the southern Willamette Valley.

The strongest winds were reported at Mary’s Peak in the Oregon Coast Range, where a 102 mph gust was recorded.

Most of the north and central coast saw winds gusting to 60-80 mph and the Portland area had wind gusts to 45-55 mph, causing downed trees and knocking out power to thousands.Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue said a tree crushed a new car and part of the home of a family in North Plains, near Portland.

No injuries were reported.

A Native American tribe on the Washington coast said a sea wall that separates its main village from the Pacific Ocean was holding.

The Quinault Indian Nation community of Taholah is home to about 1,000 people. The tribe said it was very concerned that Saturday’s storm could bring a swell that would breach the sea wall.

Forecasters now say that wind gusts are expected to top out in the area at about 75 mph, with 30-foot seas, both of which are less than initially feared by the tribe.

The ocean has breached the sea wall twice in recent years, bringing extensive flooding. The tribe is working to relocate the village to higher ground due to the rising sea-level from global warming and the risk of a tsunami.

The NWS had warned about widespread damage when the storm reaches land Saturday afternoon and evening. Meteorologist Tyree Wilde said gusts along the central Oregon coast were already reaching 63 mph, and they could hit upward of 80 mph Saturday afternoon.

Inland, the winds are forecast to be weaker at 50 to 60 mph, but still strong enough to knock down trees and cut power to thousands. Wilde says the damage will be exacerbated because many trees still have their leaves, and thus catch more wind and are more likely to topple.

The storm is moving north and expected to rake Washington later Saturday. It follows a separate storm that brought a tornado to Manzanita, Oregon, on Friday.

The mayor of Manzanita declared a state of emergency in the wake of the tornado that tore through downtown — one of two waterspouts to come ashore on the Oregon coast Friday morning.

The declaration by Mayor Garry Bullard is necessary for the beach town to be eligible for federal disaster money.

The inventory of damage from Friday’s tornado is incomplete, but photos and videos show toppled trees, downed power poles, a mangled deck and some wrecked downtown businesses.

Tillamook County Sheriff Andy Long says two businesses are confirmed destroyed and one home is uninhabitable. He says other homes have roof damage for the twister, which hit around 8:20 a.m.

The Red Cross opened a shelter for victims at Calvary Bible Church.

No injuries have been reported.

The National Weather later confirmed a second waterspout came onshore as a tornado in the Oceanside area. There were no immediate reports of any damage.

A gallery owner in Manzanita says what started as a typical beach storm Friday instantly became much more.

Debbie Harmon of the Amanita Gallery says out of nowhere the wind suddenly made a “whoooo” sound.

The whole sky filled with debris as a waterspout that moved over land and became tornado touched down in the small coastal city. Harmon says “it was just crazy and then it just stopped.”

Next thing, she saw trees scattered in the road and emergency vehicles headed toward the beach area.

Tillamook County Sheriff Andy Long told KGW the tornado path was about “ten streets long” and traveled “right through the center of town.”.

Calls to police included one from a woman who says all the windows in her house were blown out.

The National Weather Service had issued tornado warnings for southwest Washington and northwest Oregon.

Later in the day, the NWS in Portland urged people to stay off roads as multiple streets in the city were flooded and impassable after heavy rains hit the area Friday evening.

News outlets reported cars were stranded at flooded intersections and on roads throughout the city. Two eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 downtown were closed due to high water, the light rail system was experiencing delays and all streetcar service was suspended.

The weather service in Portland also said anyone living near small creeks and streams that typically flood need to pay extra attention through Friday.

Earlier, the heavy rain created dangerous conditions for the morning commute, as drivers tried to see out rain-pounded windshields and navigate through standing water on the roads.

Thousands of people were without power in Seattle as heavy rains and winds moved through the Northwest.

Seattle City Light reported Friday that more than 15,000 customers were affected by an outage, most in the Queen Anne neighborhood north of downtown.

Officials say a 4-year-old boy and his father have been injured by a falling tree branch in West Seattle.

The Seattle Fire Department posted Friday on Twitter that the child suffered serious injuries and the father minor injuries. They were being taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Coast Guard officials said a rescue was underway Friday for 40 teenagers and six adults who became stranded at an outdoor recreation camp on the Olympic Peninsula west of Port Angeles. Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi says the group called for help Friday afternoon, saying they had lost power at Camp David Jr. County Park and that trees were blocking the way out. Flockerzi says the Coast Guard trailered a boat to another location on the same lake as the camp and was using it as a ferry to bring campers out in groups. She estimated it would take about six trips and nearly six hours to get everyone out of the camp and to a waiting bus. No injuries have been reported.

Several school districts across the region delayed start times because of the weather.

Meanwhile, utility crews prepared for what’s expected to be a rougher storm on Saturday.

In Oregon, Portland General Electric reported that more than 4,000 customers were without power at 5 a.m. Friday. Pacific Power reported that 2,800 customers in coastal communities had no lights, down from a peak of more than 15,000.

Portland had the rainiest Oct. 13 in its history and the National Weather Service said a 103-mph wind gust was recorded at Cape Meares.

In Washington, Puget Sound Energy responded to scattered outages, reporting early Friday that more than 2,800 customers were still affected. Lightning strikes hit the southwest Washington coast Friday morning and a tornado warning was briefly in effect for Pacific County.

Central Oregonians also were dealing with the start of a series of powerful storms hitting the region.

“I left work about 10 o’clock and it was sprinkling, then when I went to bed at about 11 I would say, you just heard it come down. It’s a very solid house, but it was like living in a tin can,” George Stapish said Friday.

Bend officials said the city has enough people on call to handle any street flooding or downed trees in the area.

“We’re all looking at the weather forecast and getting information from everywhere we need to see if it changes or it gets worst,” city Safety and Risk Program Manager Ken Vaughan said Thursday.

Pacific Power officials said they have a team on standby to respond to any down power lines.

“When winds reach a certain level some outages are inevitable,” said utility spokesman Tom Gauntt. “Everything is going to depend on where it hits, how much rain and how wet the ground is.”

If you see any street flooding or down trees in your neighborhood, you can call the Bend Public Works Department at 541-317-3000, or your local county dispatchers.

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