Big Winds Over at Oregon Coast But Dangers Remain
(Oregon Coast) – The storm may be dying down and the highways to and from the coast are mostly back open – but dangers and issues remain. It's been a day of raucous winds on the Oregon coast, creating a few adventures and traffic hazards. Now, flooding and high surf conditions are a worry in some areas (photo above: the truck that blocked the bridge in Newport, courtesy Landing at Newport).
Highway 18 to Lincoln City is still closed as of Wednesday night and ODOT is predicting it will be open on Thursday night at the absolute earliest.
After numerous closures today - due to either crashes, power lines, or downed trees felled by the winds – US 26, US 20, US 6 and others to and from the Oregon coast are back open. However, the presence of snow still haunts some of the summits and the possibility of downed trees still creates a danger – especially on Highway 26 between Portland and Cannon Beach / Seaside.
Photo of accident on Highway 18 courtesy Mark Schroeder
Highway 101 was closed at Newport for four hours today after a truck jack-knifed on the Yaquina Bay bridge, effectively cutting off coastal residents from daily business for that time.
While all the passes except Highway 18 are back open, ODOT spokesman Dave Thompson said conditions are still rather “rough” in spots. ODOT has been cautioning the public since the highways have reopened that snow still lingers in the higher elevations, especially Highway 26, and that is creating the possibility of more trees coming down, the need for traction devices and other issues.
“Winds are still blowing from the coast so that is still a concern,” Thompson said. “We're urging people to double-check before they leave if chains are required at that moment.”
See video of the storm at Garibaldi, courtesy Harborview Inn.
Thompson said there is still the danger of falling trees, partially because of wind issues and the load from snow still present. Motorists are urged to watch for them on the highways, as well as downed powerlines.
“Trees could still fall onto the highway,” he said. “Especially after they've been pushed around for a few hours. There is still danger, even if the storm has stopped blowing.”
Thompson noted the declarations from ODOT that Highway 18 may open as early as Thursday is not set in stone. It could still be much later.
“I don't even want to promise that,” he said.
ODOT has issued a flood watch for the area just south of Seaside, which is threatening to wash over the road.
Other roads may still be troublesome around creeks and rivers. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for all of the north and central Oregon coast, including the towns of Cannon Beach, Seaside, Nehalem, Garibaldi, Bay City, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Newport, Yachats and Florence.
Highway 101 just south of Newport – in the South Beach area – is down to one lane because part of the road has eroded away.
Conditions yielded about 2:30 p.m. and the bridge was reopened after the wreckage of two vehicles were towed.
The central coast received a much bigger blow than the north Oregon coast. In Cannon Beach the top gust was reported at 54 mph. Sustained winds in Lincoln City were often in the 50's, while a peak gust of 110 mph was recorded at Cape Foulweather, near Depoe Bay.
In Manzanita, San Dune Inn owner Brian Hines said winds never got too wild, although the power had been flickering on and off.
In Depoe Bay, where the winds were worse, Trollers Lodge owner Peg Leoni said she had a few blustery adventures.
“Today was residential garbage pick up day and some of the trash got away,” she said. “Have been picking up all day, Otherwise, just some small branches and twigs on the ground.”
Leoni's black lab Samantha refused to go outside in the wind and rain from 4 a.m. until late in the day.
A high surf advisory is still in effect for the central Oregon coast until this evening. Many beaches – especially on the central coast – are still not safe to hang around on. Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said the surf has not bee too bad in the Seaside area or even up around the jetties near Astoria.
However, smaller beaches – like Hug Point around Cannon Beach, or much of the central Oregon coast – are likely still dangerous. These conditions are also creating big sneaker waves and rip tides – likely cause for a lot of caution for a few days.
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