Wind stalls train, damages structures in NW Oregon, SW Washington

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A downed tree blocking train tracks delayed a Portland-bound Amtrak train for hours

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Sunday’s windstorm toppled trees around the Portland metro area. 

In Milwaukie, a tree crashed onto Oatfield Road near Southeast Roethe Road. In Washington state, a fallen tree caused transportation officials to temporarily close Interstate 5 southbound near Woodland.  

Downed trees left a train delayed in Washington and a school greenhouse damaged in Hillsboro. The greenhouse was at Eastwood Elementary School. 

Hillsboro Police Department posted a video of the damaged greenhouse to remind people that wind gusts can pick up objects that might seem immovable. 

At the coast, people saw huge waves and choppy water. 

The U.S. Coast Guard issued a warning Saturday telling people to stay far away from the water due to concerns over sneaker waves and the possibility of the waves tossing logs or debris ashore. 

As of 4 p.m. Portland General Electric reported there were more than 200 active outages and close to 9,000 customers impacted. Pacific Power reported 112 outages in Oregon affecting around 7,600 customers. In Clark County, Clark Public Utilities reported there were still more than 400 people without power and they’d recently restored power to more than 1,000 people. 

The train that was delayed in Washington held passengers going from Seattle to Portland on Amtrak. Michael Thurman was on the train and said the train was stuck just south of State Route 501. He said the passenger train had pulled off to a side track to allow a freight train to pass and that’s when both trains came to a stop. Thurman said he was told trees were down on tracks on both sides of the two trains. 

“I heard a clap of thunder and it was hard to kind of hear inside the train,” Thurman said. “The wind shook the trees. You could see branches coming off the trees alongside the road and it poured.”

He said the rain was so heavy, it looked like the train was driving through a car wash. Thurman’s partner, Robert Noche, said water was leaking into the train cars.

The train left Seattle at around 9:45 a.m. and was due in Portland at 2 p.m. Thurman said the train pulled off to the side to let a freight train pass at around 1 p.m. That’s when the storm moved in and an announcer said there was a tree down behind the Amtrak train and in front of it. 

Thurman and Noche had been celebrating Noche’s birthday in Seattle.

“I came to relax for my birthday weekend. I just wanted to be nice and calm. I didn’t expect any excitement, but I guess I got excitement from Mother Nature,” Noche said.

After a three-hour delay, they finally rolled into Portland at around 5 p.m. Noche and Thurman said Amtrak had plenty of food and drinks for its passengers and everyone could buy what they needed during the wait.

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