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Northwest could get Thanksgiving break

We still could see some rain on Turkey Day, but it's almost certain this weekend
 Posted: 2:00 AM November 21, 2012

SEATTLE — Northwest residents might be thankful for a brief break in the rainstorms, if the forecast for Thursday is correct.

"I would say about 90 percent of our models are showing Thanksgiving Day will really not be a bad day at all," said forecaster Jay Albrecht at the National Weather Service office in Seattle. Skies should be mostly clear, and there might even be a patch of blue.

Rains bracketing the holiday could make travel difficult in places, especially for those driving over Cascade mountain passes where they may encounter snow. But it won't be anything like Monday's storm that dropped a record 2.13 inches of rain at Sea-Tac Airport, flooded urban streets, knocked out power for 50,000 and killed a hunter on the Oregon Coast.

Portland police Officer Paul Meyer, who was hit by a falling tree while training on an all-terrain vehicle, was recovering but still in serious condition Tuesday at a Portland hospital. Utilities have restored power to most of the outages.

The severe weather is headed downstream.

"The big one has occurred already," Albrecht said.

The Northwest still is in line for a series of Pacific frontal systems, but it's back to typical November bluster.

"Just kind of showery and blustery conditions but not high winds or anything damaging," he said. "This time of year you can't complain about that."

In Oregon, the storm took the life of an elk hunter near Nehalem, who died when a tree fell on his tent, and left a trail of downed branches and limbs from Astoria, where a wind gust of 101 mph was recorded, to Bend and points east. Logs littered the Willamette River and other waterways, making travel more difficult for boaters.

Flood watches and warnings remained in effect on both ends of the Oregon Coast as the rain and wind continued Tuesday.

"At least it's not a continuous heavy downpour and continuous strong or stronger winds," said Gordon McCraw, director of emergency management in coastal Tillamook County. "That was the choice yesterday; you could have strong or stronger."

The region might escape showers Thanksgiving day, but the National Weather Service says precipitation is almost certain over the weekend. And, this being Oregon, rain likely is to stay in the forecast until May.

Thanksgiving travel plans are unlikely to be disrupted by the storm. The strong winds did no damage at Portland International Airport, and all major roads remained open.

The state's largest utility companies reported only a few thousand customers still without power. Portland General Electric worked to restore power to about 6,000 customers east of Portland. Pacific Power, meanwhile, said almost all of its 2,400 customers without electricity live in coastal Lincoln City.

"When the damage is this scattered there's always the probability you'll have a couple isolated individual or small groups of customers that might drag on a little longer," said Bob Gravely, a Pacific Power spokesman.

The state Department of Parks and Recreation said four state parks remained closed Tuesday — three because of high water (Devils Lake, near Lincoln City; Sarah Helmick, south of Monmouth; and Willamette Mission, north of Salem) and one because of downed trees (Cape Meares, on the north coast).

Oregon State Police are advising Thursday night drivers on Interstate 5 between Portland and Salem to expect congestion at Woodburn with shoppers heading to the Woodburn Company Stores' 24-hour Moonlight Madness sale. Last year, traffic backed up for several miles in both directions on Thanksgiving night.


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