North coast expects wind, rain and landslides

PORTLAND — The north Oregon coast is bracing for another round of rain on its soggy soil, creating ripe conditions for landslides in a region that has endured a week of flood threats.

Rivers rose Tuesday as a series of winter storms continued to blow through the region. Coastal rivers, including the Nehalem and Tillamook, are expected to reach or exceed their flood stages Wednesday.

National Weather Service hydrologist Andy Bryant said if there is more rain than expected, moderate flooding could hit the north coast, but it's unlikely to match the flooding that struck the area last week.

"What we saw last week was several rivers that had major or moderate flooding," Bryant said. "It affected roads, private property, homes, and we're expecting to see less of that."

Bryant said high seas creating 20-foot waves will likely force the closure of some river bars, where oceangoing ships enter the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington state." Gusts up to 65 mph are also forecast to pelt the coast, and a gale warning remained in effect through Tuesday evening, with rough seas expected.

"It's nothing to mess around with," Bryant said.

Rescue workers on Tuesday continued to search for Vinesa Snegur, who fell into the Clackamas River on Sunday afternoon. The waterway is running fast and cold from a recent winter storm.

A mix of rain and snow continued to fall on search crews, making for a bleak weather situation, said Clackamas County Sheriff's Office spokesman James Rhodes.

"It's cold, it's slippery, it's icy," Rhodes said. "It's a perilous situation to put rescuers in."

Bryant said rivers will rise in the Willamette Valley but are unlikely to flood. The exception is the Pudding River near Aurora, which exceeded its 22-foot flood stage on Thursday and has stayed above flooding level since.

"Any flooding would be minor and not as significant as last week," Bryant said.

In the Columbia river gorge, a moderate dusting of snow is expected, affecting highway driving.

There is some good news. Farther south near Corvallis — where river levels rose fast last week and flooded several small towns — rivers are expected to stay in their banks.

Last week, flooding was blamed for two deaths and soaked cities up and down the Willamette River valley.

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