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Flash flood warning issued for Southern Oregon

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood and landslide warning effective from 2 p.m. today through tonight for Southern Oregon and Northern California.

With the forecast calling for isolated thunderstorms and rain showers, landslides and flash floods could occur, especially in steep terrain and areas recently charred by the many wildfires burning in the region, according to the weather service.

"Heavy rain is a common landslide trigger. Landslides are possible during this expected weather, so it's important to be aware of the potential hazard and avoid burn areas," said Bill Burns, an engineering geologist at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

The flash flood watch area includes eastern and southern Jackson County, the southeast corner of Josephine County, western Klamath County and portions of Northern California.

The Miller Complex of fires in the Applegate Valley is included in the flash flood watch area, the weather service said.

The half-dozen fires in the complex have burned 10,969 acres, according to a U.S. Forest Service update this morning.

People, buildings and roads located below steep slopes in canyons and near the mouths of canyons may be at serious risk. Caution should be used when traveling, the weather service warns.

To view a map of the flash flood watch area and updated information, visit 1.usa.gov/1NvvBQt.

Dangerous areas include:

  • Bases of steep hillsides
  • Road cuts and other areas where slopes of hills have been excavated
  • Places where slides or debris flows have occurred in the past
  • Canyon bottoms, stream channels and areas where rock and soil have accumulated at canyon outlets

To stay safe during and after landslide and flash flood warnings, the department of geology and mineral industries recommends people:

  • Stay alert. Track the flood watch via media or online. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Listen. Unusual sounds might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of falling mud or debris may precede larger landslides. If you think there is danger of a landslide, leave immediately.
  • Watch the water. If water in a stream or creek suddenly turns muddy or the amount of water flowing suddenly decreases or increases, this is a warning that the flow has been affected upstream. You should immediately leave the area because a debris flow may soon be coming downstream.
  • Travel with extreme caution. Assume highways are not safe. Be alert when driving, especially at night. Embankments along roadsides may fail, sending rock and debris onto the road.
  • Stay cautious after the storm. Cleaning up after landslides can also be hazardous. A small mudslide can actually be part of a larger landslide. Cleanup should not be done until after the storm.

— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Flash flood warning issued for Southern Oregon