Storm and Cold Weather in Oregon Wreak Havoc
PORTLAND, Ore. — Cold weather with temperatures below freezing and high wind wreaked havoc in communities across the State of Oregon. The state faced an unusual number of fallen trees, reports of at least four deaths, burst pipes, and power outages across the state.
Because of the disastrous outcome of the storm, the University of Oregon in Eugene closed its main campus. Fans were also not allowed to attend the basketball game between the Ducks and the Wildcats. They played in a near-empty arena, where the Ducks beat the Wildcats 70-58. However, this was only the tip of the iceberg.
The freezing temperatures and high wind caused many to be stranded as well, because the storm also affected rail services. Many Northwest transit agencies, in particular Trimet in the Portland metro, cancelled their services. Other agencies also reported delays and cancellations.
Most importantly, power outages across the state caused indoor temperatures to drop and left many customers without electricity. This could have resulted in the deaths of two people. As the medical examiner’s office of Multnomah County reported, two deaths might have occurred that could be related to hypothermia. One was in Portland’s 97217 zip code, and another was in Northeast Portland, and both were male.
Under the state of emergency decrees of several counties in the state, people were implored to stay indoors as the crews endeavored to clear roads and restore electricity. The restoration of electricity and the clearing of roads could continue for several days.
It is also possible that people will still have to face more freezing temperatures and rain. This can also delay the restoration of road access and electricity. Another aspect is that rising temperatures could result in flooding, and the roads could become treacherous as the snow melts.
The battle to restore electricity to all customers could continue into the rest of the week. As the vice president of system operations for Pacific Power said, “The elements are still working against us, but we will continue to work towards repairing and restoring the system. Our crews have to contend with the weather, but we are focused.”
The high winds of up to 50 miles per hour in Portland and more than 80 miles per hour in the Columbia River Gorge caused many fallen trees. As per Lisa Tadewaldt from the Urban Forest Pro in Portland, numerous people called about fallen trees that crashed into their homes. She stated this: “The number of trees that crashed into houses is higher than ever before. The insurance claims are definitely going to be incredibly high.”
She further observed that the difference is also in the fact that the winds blew down healthy trees. Storms often affect only older and weaker trees, which cause minor damage to homes. However, this time it is different.
Many fallen trees caused downed power lines as well, which resulted in blocked streets and was the main cause of power outages. One tree even affected a homeless camp in Newport, where one person was injured. Fallen trees have caused many other injuries as well, especially in the coastal regions.
Portland Fire & Rescue reported that a fallen tree also landed on an RV, killing one person. The woman in her early 30s was trapped in the RV, resulting in her death. The tree downed a transformer and a power pole, cutting off communications. This resulted in the first responders not being able to reach the victim in time. The firefighters also had issues with the fire hydrant, which was most likely frozen.
According to a fire investigator, the occupants of the RV warmed themselves with an open flame stove. When the tree hit the RV, it caught fire. Three of the other occupants escaped unharmed, but the woman was trapped inside. A fallen tree killed an older man in Lake Oswego as well. The tree fell through the second floor of his home in the Southwood neighborhood.
Apart from the numerous tree incidents, burst pipes were also reported. It affected at least one warm overnight shelter in Multnomah County, which had to be closed down. People were transported to other areas for warmth, and additional warm shelters were opened. Burst pipes also affected Portland International Airport. Although parts of the airport were flooded, they managed to continue normal operations while mopping up the areas.
By Saturday, the state lifted storm and blizzard warnings, but areas such as Coos County were under flood warnings. This warning was affected until late on Sunday. The sea still had hazardous warnings as well, especially along the coastlines of Oregon and Southwest Washington.
For their own safety, therefore, owners of privately owned boats were advised to remain in port. The coast guard also informed commercial vessels that, until conditions improve, it is expected that they will experience high and dangerous seas.
You can check out the weather in Ashland along with naitonal weather alerts here.