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Winter storm uproots trees, halts electricity

A winter storm with fierce winds and heavy rain hit the Rogue Valley Saturday, downing power lines and trees ' including a large pine that crashed through the roof of a building at a campground near Ashland.

A pine tree hollowed out by insects fell onto a building that houses a store and an apartment at Glenyan Campground, 5310 Highway 66, said Bob Holt, an engineer at Jackson County Fire District No. 5.

The tree smashed through the roof at about 9:30 a.m. and fell into an apartment where a woman and her young son lived, he said. The tree's branches knocked the woman to the floor and temporarily trapped the two in their apartment. They clambered out before firefighters arrived and were treated at the scene for scrapes and bruises, Holt said. Their names weren't released.

Campground owner Trudy Coughlin said the building's windows were shattered and the store and campground office were littered with broken glass. She said that fortunately this isn't the campground's busy season and no one was in the business at the time.

The owners removed the tree and boarded up the damage. Coughlin had not yet obtained an estimate on the damage.

In Medford, trees fell on Almond Street and Summit Avenue, said Tad Blanton, the city's on-call public works supervisor. On Almond Street, a tree fell on a power line and the street was closed until Pacific Power workers could make repairs, he said.

In Ashland, a downed power line closed Hersey Street at Carol Street for several hours Saturday morning until repairs were completed, Ashland Fire and Rescue crews said.

A Pacific Power spokeswoman said there were several small outages in the Medford area. As of Saturday evening, 15 customers were without power.

Because there was not a single, large outage, it took more time for crews to respond, with customers and emergency responders waiting more than two hours for workers to arrive to make repairs.

Fallen trees also kept Oregon Department of Transportation crews busy. A department dispatcher said a fallen tree briefly closed Highway 66, but crews quickly removed it. They also cleared fallen trees from the Mount Ashland access road and along Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods. The department restricted the movement of mobile homes on Highway 140 at Lake of the Woods and Doak Mountain because of high winds.

The department's crews also went to work Saturday afternoon when snow started falling near Lake of the Woods. Snow levels remained fairly high Saturday, but were expected to dip overnight.

Snow levels likely will drop to around 4,000 or 4,500 feet by early Sunday morning, said Larry Jacobs, hydrometeorological technician at the National Weather Service's Medford forecast office.

That could mean snow on Interstate 5's Siskiyou Summit, which has an elevation of 4,310 feet. He said, however, that snow levels would rise again today, at least until the next storm moves through this afternoon.

Saturday morning's temperatures were warm, with a high in Medford of 65, Jacobs said. Around 11:30 a.m. a cold front at the core of Saturday's storm moved through, dropping temperatures 10 degrees in half an hour, he said. Temperatures remained cool through the rest of the day.

As the front moved through, wind speeds also peaked, with a gust of 41 mph recorded in Medford, Jacobs said.

Over the 24-hour period that ended at 4 p.m. Saturday, about half an inch of rain fell in Medford, he said. The wettest spot around the region was Mount Shasta City, which got more than 4 inches of rain during the period.

The National Weather Service noted that rivers are rising in Southern Oregon and Northern California, but because they had been so low before recent storms, flooding is unlikely.

Clogged storm drains covered a few streets with water in Ashland and Medford, but both cities said localized flooding was minor.

Another storm is predicted today with more high winds, heavy rain and dropping snow levels, forecasts said.

Rain likely will continue Monday with a slight drying trend predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday, Jacobs said. Rain will be increasingly likely Thursday and Friday.

Lower temperatures expected this week also will drop snow levels, the forecast said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4459, or e-mail .