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Dec-14-2006 09:48printcomments

STORM WATCH: Willamette Valley Bracing For Strong Winds, Heavy Rainfall, And Flooding

A Flood Watch has been issued for rivers, creeks, and streams in Marion, Polk, Benton, and Linn counties through Friday.

A home near Albany struck by a tree that fell during the Feb. 7th 2002
A home near Albany struck by a tree that fell during the Feb. 7th 2002 windstorm. Photo Courtsey: NWS

(SALEM) - Weather experts are predicting that the most powerful windstorm that Oregon has seen in nearly a decade will arrive later today with winds reaching speeds of over 100 mph on the coast and 65 mph in the valley. The National Weather Service says strong south winds will develop first as a warm front lifts north today. Winds on the coast will gust 55 to 65 mph today but the strongest winds will arrive this evening as the cold front moves across the region. Winds will subside after midnight. The NWS issued a High Wind Warning for the central and south Willamette Valley and the north Oregon Cascade foothills which is in effect from 4:00 PM this afternoon to 4:00 AM Friday. A High Wind Warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. Sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage. Authorities ask that if you must be out driving tonight during the storm. Pay extra attention to the road in front of you, watch for falling debris, leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you, and allow extra time to get to your destination. If you get into an accident, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. Times below are forecasts for the strongest damaging south winds. First wind listed is the forecast sustained wind followed by forecasted/anticipated gusts (g). Location times of strongest winds during start peak end peak period. (4:00 PM to 7:00 PM - Midnight to 2:00 AM) North Oregon Coast communities: 35-45 mph G 65-80 mph. Beaches/headlands: 45-60 mph G 85-100 mph. Central Oregon Coast communities: 35-45 mph G 75-85 mph. Willipa Hills and North Oregon Coast Range communities/valleys: 30-45 mph G 50-60 mph. Peaks/ridges: 45-65 mph G 80-100 mph. Central Oregon Coast Range Communities/valleys: 30-40 mph G 50-65 mph. Peaks/ridges: 40-55 mph G 70-85 mph. North Willamette Valley: 35-45 mph G 55-65 mph. Hills/exposed areas: 40-50 mph G 65-75 mph. Central Willamette Valley communities/valleys: 35-45 mph G 55-65 mph. Hills/exposed areas: 40-50 mph G 65-75 mph. South Willamette Valley communities/valleys: 30-40 mph G 50-65 mph. Hills/exposed areas: 35-45 mph G 60-65 mph. North Oregon Cascades And Foothills communities/valleys: 30-45 mph G 50-65 mph. Peaks/ridges: 50-65 mph G 80-100 mph. Peaks above 8000 feet: 75-90 mph G 105-130 mph. The NWS has also issued a Flood Watch for Willamette Valley rivers, creeks, and streams through Friday. The valley will see around 2 inches of rain with this storm. Coastal rivers of concern include: Nehalem River in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties, Wilson River in Tillamook County, Siletz River in Lincoln County, Alsea River in Lincoln County, Siuslaw River in Lane County. Inland rivers of concern include: Marys River in Benton County, Santiam River in Marion And Linn Counties, Luckiamute River in Polk and Benton Counties, Pudding River in Clackamas and Marion Counties, Upper Tualatin River in Washington County, Clackamas River in Clackamas County, the mainstem Willamette River near Salem and Oregon City may rise above bankfull with some minor impacts at these levels. A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. You should monitor forecasts and Be Alert! for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should Be Prepared to take action should flooding develop. Here are some tips from experts on what to do before and after a flood. What to do before and during heavy rains: Be Aware! of flash floods. If there is any possibility of a flash flood occurring, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. Listen to radio or television stations for local information. Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly. If local authorities issue a flood watch, prepare to evacuate. Secure your home. If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances, but do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. Fill your car with fuel. Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or services cut off. Sterilize the bathtub first. Stay away from floodwaters. They could be contaminated. Look out for animals, especially snakes: Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals. Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must walk in a flooded area, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you. Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Be alert for gas leaks: Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know that the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated. When deep flooding is likely, permit the floodwaters to flow freely into the basement of your home (or flood the basement yourself with clean water, if you are sure it will be flooded anyway). This will avoid structural damage to the foundation and the house by equalizing the water pressure on the outside of the basement walls and floors. What to do after a flood: Stay away from floodwaters. The water may be contaminated by oil gasoline or raw sewage. The water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Stay away from moving water. Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car. Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company. Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for volunteers. Continue listening to a battery-powered radio for information. Consider your family's health and safety needs. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water. Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink. Contact your insurance agent. To prepare: Take photos of or videotape your belongings and your home. Separate damaged and undamaged belongings. Locate your financial records. Keep detailed records of cleanup costs. PGE has some tips on what to do before the storm hits. 1. Prepare an emergency kit that contains: 2. Flashlight 3. Extra batteries 4. Wind-up or battery-powered alarm clock 5. Manual can opener 6. Battery-powered radio or TV 7. 72-hour supply of ready-to-eat food and water 8. Extra blankets 9. Paper plates and utensils 10. Firewood for a fireplace or wood stove 11. Matches 12. Thermos And of course something to help pass the time, such as books, board games and playing cards. What to do at your home if your power goes out: 1. Check your fuse or breaker box for blown fuses or tripped circuits. If they’re OK, check to see if your neighbors are without power. 2. Call your power company immediately to report the outage. Please call only once so other customers can get through. 3. Turn off all electrical equipment, including your water heater, electric furnace or heaters, stove, washer and dryer, stereo and TV, to help prevent overloading the system when power is restored. (Major appliances can be turned off at the breaker box.) Do however, turn on a porch light and one inside light so you and PGE’s crews will know when service is restored. 4. Listen to a battery-powered radio for outage updates. 5. If your neighbor’s power comes back on but yours does not, call your power company again. 6. If your lights are very dim or bright once power is restored, turn off the power at the breaker or fuse box and call your power company. 7. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Food in a refrigerator will last for 12 to 24 hours if kept cool. A full freezer can last for 24 to 48 hours. Power Outage Phone Numbers: PGE: (800) 544-1795 Salem Electric: (503) 362-3601 Pacific Power: (877) 548-3768 Consumers Power: (800) 827-9036 Monmouth: (503) 838-3526 McMinnville: (503) 472-6158 Canby: (503) 266-4021 Avista: (800) 227-9187. Marion County Public Works says the Wheatland Ferry will close at 6:00 PM Thursday due to the high river levels. The ferry will remain closed through Christmas Day and is expected to reopen Dec. 26th.

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