PORTLAND, Ore. — Heavy rain caused trouble for morning commuters Friday as multiple crashes delayed traffic around the Portland metro area.
More than 2 inches have been recorded at Portland International Airport (PDX) during this weather event, including 1.79 inches in the past 24 hours, KGW's Chris McGinness reported Friday morning. Another half to three-quarters of an inch is possible through Friday evening, McGinness said.
A semi crash on southbound Interstate 205 on Friday morning caused a major traffic backup before the Glenn Jackson Bridge. Officials closed the ramp from SR 14 and shut down multiple lanes on the bridge because of the crash.
There were multiple crashes that caused delays on Interstate 5 Friday morning, including a crash on northbound I-5 near Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard and a crash on northbound I-5 near Southwest Macadam Avenue.
Multiple stalled cars across the area also caused traffic delays.
The heavy rains combined with fallen leaves caused flooding in some parts of Southeast Portland on 33rd Avenue. A driver tried to go through the flood waters, but quickly realized they made a mistake.
"I tried to back out but it was too late. I got swept in... and that was it. I was stuck," said the driver who only wanted to be identified by their first name, Elexis. "So I called 911 for help because I didn’t know what to do. The ambulance was sent out. They didn’t even come close to my car. They just said, 'well why can’t you get out?' And so they were just instructing us from a distance on what to do."
Luckily, some good Samaritans were nearby and willing to help.
"So I jumped in there with them and rolled up my pants, and we got her car pushed out," Shane Milner said. "I would think twice about it just before driving in there. Maybe think about another route. You can save yourself some time by going around the block.
Neighbor Shane McCarthy showed up after returning home from the store. He helped free the trapped water by using a rake to pull leaves away from drains.
The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) for the city of Portland reported Friday morning that the heavy rains filled the Big Pipe system, leading to sewer overflow into the Willamette River. BES reported the overflow is about 80% rainwater and 20% sewage and advised people to avoid contact with the river due to increased bacteria.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Tillamook County Sheriff's Office worked to evacuate about 20 people from the Neskowin Creek RV Resort in Tillamook County, located due to a failing access road amid heavy ongoing rain.
"There's high water throughout the park, but there's a very small bridge that crosses a creek into the park, and that bridge seems to be failing also, so we are evacuating all the residents and then moving them to an elementary school," said Lincoln County Undersheriff Matt Kelly.
A landslide closed North Slick Rock Creek Road off Highway 18, about 13 miles northeast of Lincoln City, on Friday morning. The Lincoln County Sheriff's office said the road will reopen sometime Friday afternoon and Pacific Power said power should be restored to the area by the end of the day.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Flash Flood Watch shortly after 8 a.m. Friday for that area. "Please remain vigilant and follow any instructions from local law enforcement," the NWS tweeted.
Thursday night crashes, rockslides, ponding and flood warnings
On Thursday at 7:16 p.m., the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office tweeted that it had responded to seven different crashes in two hours related to the weather. It warned on its Twitter for drivers to be cautious because there was limited visibility due to the rain and the roads were slick.
Then, it tweeted again, at 8:10 p.m. Thursday, about a rockslide that had been reported on East Columbia River Highway between Larch Mountain Road and Multnomah Falls. There was no estimated time window of when this might be cleaned up.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office said it responded to a crash on Northwest Mountaindale Road near North Plains at around 7:15 p.m. A tree had fallen on a car. Despite the tree seemingly going through the windshield, the tweet reported that the driver escaped the encounter with only minor injuries.
Dylan Rivera, a spokesperson for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), said they had dozens of calls Thursday about water ponding on streets where storm drains had clogged.
"We've cleared about 60 plugged storm drains today, usually within minutes or hours of receiving a report from the public," Rivera told KGW on Thursday night.
Rivera said that if people see ponding water affecting traffic on major streets or if they're unable to clear a storm drain by their home or office, they should call PBOT's 24/7 dispatch hotline at 503-823-1700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Weather Service reported at 10:51 p.m. Thursday that a flood warning was issued for the Wilson River near Tillamook. "Expect minor flooding along the Wilson in and near Tillamook tonight and Friday," the NWS said.