Oregon weather: Heavy rain brings flood concern; major blizzard to slam Cascade passes

·4 min read

Oregon's weather is expected to return to more normal patterns over the coming week, but that doesn't mean it's settling down.

While temperatures will warm from the recent freeze, heavy rain and mountain snow are projected for the next week, bringing the potential for minor flooding at lower elevations, while Cascade Mountain passes become nearly impassable Monday and Tuesday.

A flood watch is in effect through Monday afternoon for most of Lane County, along with the rest of the Willamette Valley, the Coast Range and the foothills of the Cascade Range in Lane County.

High winds are also expected Sunday evening, both in the Willamette Valley (20 to 30 mph) and on the Oregon Coast (35 to 45).

Heavy rainfall coming to valley

Rainfall totals of two to four inches in the Willamette Valley, and upwards of five to eight inches in the Coast Range and Cascade Foothills will push some creeks and rivers toward and above their banks over the coming week, according to the National Weather Service in Portland.

Sunday night and Monday could see 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain in the Willamette Valley, with far more in the mountains.

In Eugene, the bulk of the rain was expected to fall after 7 p.m. Sunday, with between a quarter and half-inch Sunday night and one to two inches Monday.

It's unclear how significant the flooding will be, NWS hydrologist Andy Bryant said. Overall it looks to be a "really wet week" with a bit of a lull in rain late Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Bryant.

"We already have very saturated soils and some low-elevation snow that will melt throughout the week and contribute to river flow," he said. "No major flooding is expected."

Snow plows run near Detroit Lake, Ore., on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.
Snow plows run near Detroit Lake, Ore., on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

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So far, only streams that often overflow are projected to see flooding, including the Pudding and Mill Creek in the valley and coastal rivers such as the Wilson, Nestucca and Trask.

"We're not expecting any major flooding at this point — we're just keeping an eye on the usual suspects," Clinton Rockey, a meteorologist with NWS Portland, said. "We do expect rivers to rise but how much depends on location and how much snow melts in the mountains."

Strong winds predicted

Drivers and those walking outside should be careful of the wind Sunday night, with wind speeds between 16 and 23 mph, and gusts up to 34 mph predicted for Eugene.

The wind will die down somewhat Monday, with gusts up to 20 mph possible. A NWS wind advisory, which is in effect through 1 a.m. Monday, warns that tree limbs could be blown down and cause outages.

Coastal flooding possible Monday

Oregon Coast residents should be prepared for minor tidal flooding in low-lying areas Monday, with a coastal flood advisory issued for the central and north Oregon Coast, as well as the Washington Coast.

The minor flooding could reach up to one foot above ground level at low-lying areas near bays, sloughs and the lower reaches of coastal rivers, according to the advisory.

The flooding is likely during high tides from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. Higher tides are expected to continue with the heavy rain this week, starting to subside on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Bryant.

"This is on the minor side. It's just due to really high tides over the next few days, plus the storm activity we have," he said.

More snow to hit mountains

Much of the incoming precipitation will turn to snow in Oregon's mountains, primarily above 2,000 feet and with the highest snowfall totals coming near mountain passes around 3,500 feet.

A winter storm warning projects 18-36 inches of snow from Sunday evening through Monday night with winds gusting up to 65 mph.

"Travel will be very hazardous," according to the warning. "Widespread blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. Very strong winds could cause extensive tree damage."

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Tuesday and Tuesday evening could bring another foot of snow.

"Both days look pretty bad for travel, but Monday looks like the worst," Rockey said.

No end in sight

Rain in the valley and snow in the mountains is forecast for pretty much every day for the next week.

"It's going to stay on the active side through next weekend," Rockey said. "There will be periods to get out but it'll be pretty hit and miss."

Louis Krauss covers breaking news for The Register-Guard. Contact him at lkrauss@registerguard.com, and follow him on Twitter @LouisKraussNews.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. To support his work, subscribe to the Statesman Journal. Urness can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Oregon weather: Rain brings flood concern; blizzard to slam mountains

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