Wind, rain trigger car breakdowns and crashes in Oregon

Heavy rains and winds ripped tree limbs and triggered power outages and flood warnings across Oregon on Friday evening, marking an abrupt end to recent warmer than usual weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, snow and ice in eastern Oregon caused spinning semi trailers and blocking lanes on Interstate 84. So many trucks had to stop in Baker City that transportation officials began requiring trucks heading west to Idaho to stop at the border instead Ontario.

A maple tree fell in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland during high winds and rain Friday night. He smashed a car and destroyed power lines.

Stephani Gordon/OPB

The dramatic change in weather was caused by a massive atmospheric river which swept from the Pacific Ocean and pounded the region.

As highways in western Oregon became slippery in the rain, transportation officials had to close some roads due to car crashes, including two fatal incidents in which drivers lost control of their cars. vehicle in Washington and Clatsop counties.

In Washington State, high winds caused the release of a houseboat that floated loose on the Columbia River.

The heavy rain also flooded Portland’s “Big-Pipe” system Friday night, causing stormwater and sewage to overflow into the Willamette River. City officials are advising the public to avoid contact with the river for at least two days due to increased bacteria in the water.

As sewage poured into the river, winds of up to 40 miles per hour triggered power outages for several thousand people. Portland General Electric clients. A company spokesperson said most of those outages were due to wind-related equipment damage, but some were also caused by a fire at a substation in Portland’s Mount Tabor neighborhood. It is not known if the fire was caused by the storm; the spokesperson said PGE is still investigating the incident.

Portland responders reported fires and explosions near the substation northeast of 60th Avenue and Stark Street around 9 p.m., according to a Press release. Under the advice of a PGE representative after finding little threat to surrounding buildings and homes, Portland firefighters allowed the electrical fire to die out.

“This incident was complicated in part because the substation was still live with all the transformer oil burning on the ground,” the statement said.

About 7,000 PGE electricity meters lost power due to the fire, but have since been redirected to other power sources.

Flames in an electrical substation.

Portland Fire & Rescue crews responded to a fire at a Portland General Electric substation on Northeast 60th Avenue and Stark Street Friday night. No other buildings outside the station were damaged.

Portland Fire and Rescue

Prepare now for a cold and wet winter

Friday night’s storm could be just the start of what should be a very cold and wet winter. Emergency officials say now is a good time to stock up on things you’ll need during a winter storm, whether you’re stuck at home or on the road.

“We encourage people to have extra food, water, extra medicine, important documents as part of their home preparedness,” said Andrew Phelps, director of the Department of Emergency Management at the Oregon. “When you’re on the road, it’s important to have some of those same things: extra warm clothes, extra non-perishable food, extra water bottles, and other things you might need to keep you going. security.”

Phelps said the most important thing people can do is stay aware of weather conditions and hazards. Some resources include:

The American Red Cross offers a complete guide to understand weather warnings and prepare for winter storms. Among the tips, he advises people to protect their homes by:

  • Create an emergency plan with your family.
  • Protect frost pipes.
  • Ensure that heat sources are installed correctly and safely.

Be very careful with heaters

Phelps said alternative heating sources, such as wood or coal stoves, kerosene lamps and generator-powered electric heaters can be helpful, but only if used safely.

“There are certain things that people want to try to do that actually become more harmful than good, and generators are a great example of that,” Phelps said.

Generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning or an electrical fire if used improperly. The Red Cross also has a generator safety guide. His advice includes:

  • Keep the generator dry and do not touch it with wet hands to avoid electric shock.
  • Turn it off and let it cool before refueling, to prevent gasoline from spilling onto hot engine parts and igniting.
  • Store gasoline for the generator in a dry, cool, safe place away from home.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gas or charcoal powered equipment in a house, garage, basement, or other partially enclosed space. Opening windows and doors does not provide enough ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Heaters can also pose a significant hazard during the winter months. The National Fire Protection Association offers a heater safety guidewho advises people to maintain a 3-foot clearance around them, and to always turn them off and unplug them when not in use.

Traveling in winter

While drivers can get timely updates on road conditions at Oregon Where Washington’s roadmapPhelps said they should always keep safety gear in their cars.

“The weather can change very, very quickly, and you don’t want to find yourself without the proper gear you need to drive in the snow,” Phelps said. “Like tire chains, for example, or having emergency kits in case you get stuck somewhere.”

The Red Cross advise drivers to winterize their cars ahead of winter storm seasons to avoid being stranded. He also advises drivers to keep these items in their car:

  • A windshield scraper and a small broom.
  • A small sandbag, for wheel traction, or a traction mat.
  • Snow chains.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Red fabric to attach to the antennae.
  • An emergency kit, including warm clothes.

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