PORTLAND – The National Weather Service Wednesday issued a Flood Watch through Friday morning for rivers and creeks in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
In Albany, a child's body was recovered after a car was swept into a creek Wednesday evening. An adult was still missing Thursday after a second child and man in the car were rescued.
In Salem, high water has closed Fairway Avenue west of Commercial Street SE and sections of Airway Drive. Mill Creek was being monitored for possible Thursday flooding and water was lapping the bottoms of bridges.
Sandbags and sand were being handed out to Turner residents in Marion County. The Wheatland and Buena Vista ferries are both closed. High water has closed Hwy 22 near Sublimity.
Ice was causing a number of spinouts on I-84 in The Dalles. Travelers were advised to avoid the area until later Thursday.
Outside Bend, heavy snow, electrical outages and high winds shut down Mount Bachelor ski area Thursday. A landslide Thursday morning also closed Highway 20 between Sisters and the Santiam summit.
The Linn County sheriff's office was advising residents to regularly check the county Web site for road closures.
The Lane County sheriff's office advised all residents of the Mapleton area at 6 a.m. to leave their homes and gather at the Florence Events Center before high water from the Siuslaw River blocks roads later Thursday morning.
KMTR reported that a home had been swept away in Eugene up with people inside. The evacuation advisory has been expanded to include the communities of Marcola and Mohawk.
Expect heavy rain Thursday that continues through Saturday, said KGW meteorologist Nick Allard. Expect highs Thursday in the upper 40s and lower 50s.
ODOT closed one lane of Highway 101 near Newport after a slide began developing into a sinkhole. Highway 18 remained closed Thursday morning between Otis and Grande Ronde. More: Road closures
Driving through the huge puddles can be dangerous and hard on some cars, too. "Some of the minivans have problems with the drive belt. If you go through a large puddle of snow or ice it can knock the drive belt off," explained Steve Lund Du with Fresne's Auto Repair.
The combination of heavy rain and snowmelt will make conditions perfect for potential landslides, especially in drainage areas.
"The ones we're really concerned about are the ones in Southeast Portland out in the Clackamas River drainage area and Oregon City. Those are a lot of really old landslides and they reactivate if they get a lot of water. Once they start moving, it's hard to stop them and those are the ones you don't want to have happen," explained PSU Geology Professor Scott Burns.
Dangerous surges in rivers and creeks can also develop in these conditions. Steep slopes, canyons, gorges and the mouths of mountain streams were the locations at greatest risk for debris flows of logs, soil and boulders, experts said.
Officials warned not to stand too close to the edge of steep slopes and pay attention to sounds that may precede a slide, if you’re near rivers or canyons. Also, driving through flooded areas is unsafe, since there may be unseen damage to the roadway.
If water in a river or stream suddenly turns muddy or the amount of water suddenly decreases or increases, the flow has been affected upstream and a debris flow may soon be coming downstream, experts said.
Cleaning up immediately after landslides can also be hazardous, since a small mudslide can actually be part of a larger landslide.
One of the worst years for landslides in the Portland Metro area was back in 1996. About half of those slides occurred in the West Hills.
More recently, a mudslide almost took out a home on Portland’s east side. If that happens, insurance will not cover the costs, unless the homeowner has specific landslide insurance.