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Rain postpones work on Galice rockslide

GALICE — Rain delayed the clearing of a large rock slide on Galice Road Thursday as another round of wet weather barreled into southwest Oregon.

Robco of Grants Pass removed about a third of the slide Wednesday before the weather shut things down for Thursday and Friday, said Rob Brandes, public works director for Josephine County.

He said the Galice area was pounded with rain and wind Thursday and Friday.

The conditions are unsafe because of heavy ground saturation.

A 100-foot fir tree above the slide is now uprooted and leaning over, and a large chunk of earth is poised to start sliding — "They sound like they will go at any time," Brandes said.

If things stabilize, work could resume Saturday, Brandes said.

The road will remain closed for at least a few more days.

The slide came down Jan. 17 about three-fourths of a mile past Galice, 20 miles northwest of Grants Pass. To get to town, a handful of residents in the area, plus some Bureau of Land Management employees who work at Rand, currently have to circle around to Interstate 5 at Sunny Valley or Wolf Creek via Lower Grave Creek.

The project could cost upward of $50,000 if 3-foot-high concrete jersey barriers are needed along the road, Brandes said.

The National Weather Service continued a flood watch for southwest Oregon with today's rain, and snow levels between 6,000 and 9,000 feet.

Small-stream flooding could occur with snowmelt and rain, though no flooding of rivers is expected. Rivers should crest tonight, with the Rogue projected to rise over 11 feet in Grants Pass, well below the 20-foot flood stage.

Forecasters warn travelers to watch for landslides and flooded roadways.

Grants Pass had another 1.01 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending at 7 a.m. Friday, and for the month had 8.83 inches, well above the 5.40 average for January.

With two months left, the wet season is already at 25.51 inches. The average for the entire wet season is 27 inches.

Selma had 1.4 inches of rain in 24 hours, and Brookings had over 2 inches.

Since Dec. 1, Grants Pass has had 22.14 inches of precipitation. Only four times since 1950 — 2005, 1996, 1969, 1964 — have consecutive December-January totals topped that number.

The mountains west of Grants Pass were expected to get an inch or more of rain Friday before things tapered off to showers. In addition, the snow level was forecast to drop drastically Friday evening to around 2,500 feet.

Reach reporter Jeff Duewel at 541-474-3720 or jduewel@thedailycourier.com