Winter storm pummels the Pacific Northwest

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PORTLAND (AP) — A powerful winter storm has moved into the Pacific Northwest and is expected to linger through tonday, delivering strong winds and rain in some places and heavy snowfall and whiteout conditions in others.

Towering waves also are expected, but the storm won’t be limited to the coast and mountains. Forecasters also have posted high-wind warnings with gusts up to 55 mph in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the metro Portland area, The Oregonian reported.

The National Weather Service says the highest winds hit Oregon Sunday evening, with an 84 mph gust recorded at the mouth of the Columbia River and an 81 mph gust at Lincoln City.

Meteorologist Ted Buehner in Seattle says wind gusts early today in Washington hit 60 mph on the coast and 55 mph in the south Puget Sound area.

Liana Ramirez, a National Weather Service forecaster in Portland, said the wind’s effect could be more severe because it’s coming directly from the south, instead of the season’s usual southwesterly and westerly winds. That could lead to trees toppling onto power lines. Thousands of residents experienced power failures Sunday in Corvallis, Astoria, North Bend and elsewhere.

The blustery weather was expected to lead to towering seas, with up to 30-foot waves. Forecasters issued a flood watch for the north Oregon coast, with the likelihood of tidal overflows and minor coastal flooding, the newspaper reported.

As wind and rain pummeled the coast and Willamette Valley, the Cascade Mountains in Washington and Oregon were getting hit with snow, with as much as 3 feet of powder in 36 hours. A blizzard warning remains in effect until this evening.

Visibility was expected to be a quarter-mile or less from the blowing snow, with whiteout conditions in higher elevations and along the passes. The Seattle Times reported the locations expecting blizzard conditions include Hurricane Ridge, Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, White Pass and the Paradise Ranger Station.

Colder air is dropping the snow level under 1,000 feet tonight and could leave snow on the higher hills in the Puget Sound area.

KTVZ reported more slide-off and rollover crashes occurred Sunday after a string of at least a dozen Saturday evening and night. Police said most likely involved drivers going too fast for the conditions.

Because of the dangerous conditions, the Weather Service recommended no travel in the Cascades unless absolutely necessary. It says motorists who do need to travel should pack winter survival kits with flashlights, food, water and blankets.

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