(Update: Death from fallen tree in Spokane; Highway 26 closed near Mount Hood by downed lines, trees)
SEATTLE (AP) — A powerful wind storm rolled through the Pacific Northwest overnight, killing at least one person and leaving a trail of damage -- including nearly blowing a semi off a bridge, a landslide and more than 500,000 people without power. Highway 26 was shut near Mount Hood.
Winds reached gusts 50-70 mph in parts of the Puget Sound region as the storm’s cold front blew through on the tail end of several inches of rain that left soils saturated and conditions ripe for tree falls, KOMO-TV reported.
Ferndale reported a gust to 70 mph while Federal Way hit 61, SeaTac reported 58 while Tacoma hit 56, Bellevue hit 52 and Everett hit 48 mph.
Officials say the death happened in Spokane when a tree fell on a woman in her car and trapped her.
In Oregon, Dodson residents were told to evacuate after the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Wednesday morning. Officials issued the flash flood warning just before 5:30 a.m., urging residents of Dodson to evacuate the area immediately, KOIN reported.
The weather service told residents to call friends in the area to wake them up. NWS tweeted that the situation has been “deemed too dangerous to send in rescue crews.”
Highway 26 was closed Wednesday west of the Highway 35 (Mount Hood Highway) intersection due to downed power lines, while TripCheck indicated downed trees closed it at other locations in the area.
Follow traffic updates at our ODOT TripCheck page.
Eastbound Interstate 84 in Oregon was closed at the Troutdale exit after a landslide spilled onto the freeway near Dodson earlier in the morning.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office first tweeted about the landslide shortly before 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Half an hour later, MCSO said the landslide was still active. First responders from the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Police and MCSO are on scene searching for anyone who may have been caught in the debris.
MCSO says they do not know how wide the landslide is, but deputies estimate it to be several feet deep in some areas. ODOT is bringing in machinery to clear the roadways.
Reports of trees down across roads and/or into power lines were spread across the region in the lowlands while closer to the mountains, several rivers began spilling their banks from relentless rains over the past 48 hours.
One USPS semi truck blew over in 60-65 mph gusts as it attempted to cross the Deception Pass Bridge along SR 20 in Washington early Wednesday morning, leaving part of the truck leaning precariously over the edge. The driver wasn’t injured but had a harrowing tale to tell.
ODOT advised Wednesday that heavy winds and rain have produced a variety of road hazards including standing water, flooding, downed trees and powerlines. But another major threat in the days ahead will come from rain-soaked hillsides that threaten to slide onto roads.
Even as rains let up, saturated, unstable soils remain, aggravating the potential for slides. ODOT said it has started assessments, including aerial observations, to study the extent and nature of the threat.
The slides have been taking place in areas of the state accustomed to slides in heavy rain, including the Columbia River Gorge, rivers along the Coast Range and in the Cascades.