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Northwest winter storm leaves outages, possible flooding

SEATTLE (AP) — A winter storm that blanketed the Pacific Northwest with ice and snow is causing lingering problems Monday, with hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon still in the dark after heavy snow and then ice brought down tree branches this weekend and blocked storm drains in Washington state and Idaho raising concerns about flooding.

Portland General Electric’s map of power outages listed 288,922 customers without electricity, most in Clackamas County. At least 4,000 power lines were brought down by ice and tree limbs and multiple transmission lines were severely damaged by the storm that swept through this weekend.

Officials in Boise, Idaho, were concerned about thousands of storm drains that could be clogged by snow and ice, causing flooding.

“I’m sure you’ve driven through an area with a huge puddle,” Nicole DuBois, chief communication officer for the Ada County Highway District told Boise TV station KTVB. “The reason that is happening is because the storm drain in the area is clogged with something and preventing that water from draining through.”

Flooding was also a concern in western Washington as milder Pacific air arrived early Monday, with snow melting, storm drains clogged and rain expected.

“We suggest getting out shovels or finding a way to clear that out so that when it does rain and all the snow melts, the water will have a place to go,” said Courtney Carpenter, a senior meteorologist with National Weather Service in Seattle.

The winter weather wasn’t giving up its grip in the Cascade Range, where heavy snowfall was expected at times all week and into the weekend. Washington transportation officials closed the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass early Monday to do avalanche control work.

Mountain passes could see 15 to 30 inches of new snow through Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, snow-packed roads, downed trees and power lines made travel in the Portland area treacherous.

Officials canceled all service on the Portland Streetcar and only a few light rail routes were operating. Bus routes throughout the city were delayed, detoured or canceled.

A person runs in the snow, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Winter weather was expected to continue through the weekend in the region.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)