Storm preps: Coast Guard warns visitors, PBOT staffs up

Oregon

Sunday could see increase in rain, wind intensity

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The chance for increased rain and wind intensity on Sunday has crews in the metro and along the coast prepping for the possibilities.

There are extra crews ready if the Portland Bureau of Transportations needs to step in this weekend should roads flood and trees come down. Officials believe the city will likely see the most problems beginning Sunday.

So far, though, PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer said they’ve gotten the normal volume of calls they’d typically get on a rainy Saturday.

Sunday is the day when rapid strengthening of Bomb Cyclone #2 reaches its lowest minimum pressure. While the exact path is uncertain, this storm will truck toward the Oregon and Washington coastline. This is the 2nd storm of its kind in one week. If you’re thinking this sounds extreme for the PNW, you’d be right.

However Sunday could see an increase in intensity of the rain and the wind. The PBOT crews will work to make sure the storm drains say clear in order to avoid major street flooding, Schafer said. Crews will also work closely with Portland Parks & Rec, PGE and Pacific Power to clear trees and branches quickly.

Leaves near a storm drain during rainfall in downtown Portland, October 21, 2021 (KOIN)

“You know, our trees have had a lot of stress this year starting with the ice storm in Febraury of 2021 and then our heat dome this summer which also put a lot of stress on our trees,” she told KOIN 6 News. “So this being the first major rain and windstorm of the season, we are expecting to see some branches down and debris in the roadway.”

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If you come across any major road hazards, including trees or branches that fell or if you find storm drains that won’t clear after you’ve tried to remove the surface debris, call PBOT’s 24-hour maintenance dispatch hotline — 503.823.1700.

Along the Oregon coast

The US Coast Guard wants people at the Oregon and Washington coast to stay far away from the waves.

With the forecast of waves potentially more than 30 feet, Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said people need to stay further from the water than you might think.

“People who are trying to watch Mother Nature from shore want to make sure that you give it enough distance,” Strohmaier told KOIN 6 News. “Remember those logs and that debris might weigh hundreds of pounds and if you get too close and go out with it those are going to hurt.”

The biggest waves will be found south of Florence – that is the stretch of beach under a high surf warning now. However, that doesn’t mean the beach is any safer to the north of Florence. These watches and warnings are subject to change. The north Oregon coast may encounter breakers up to 32 feet. Flooded roads and parking lots are expected during high tide, not because of rain, rather because ocean water will be rushing above the mean tide level.  

A man and dog walk along the beach of the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon coast, seen from the Chinook webcam, October 23, 2021

There’s another danger, he said.

“These waves have these sneaker waves that can come get you and pull you out way too far in that freezing water and, you know, have some pretty bad consequences,” he said.

The storm and large waves has the Coast Guard also working to get ships to safety.

“Right now there is a storm warning offshore, and all those container ships and bulk carriers, we are trying to get them into the Puget Sound region as fast as possible, or down in Oregon down into the Columbia River as quick as possible where it’s a little bit safer,” Strohmaier said.

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