Atmospheric river, strong winds expected

Atmospheric river, strong winds expected

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Linn County advised residents to stock up on emergency supplies in preparation for another “atmospheric river” and high winds expected to hit southern Oregon at the end of January.

According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, increased rainfall and high winds are expected to hit the West Coast from January 31 to February 5.

“Heavy rain and high winds will likely occur very soon following the ice storm,” said Jeff Kincaid, Lane County’s interim emergency manager.

If this system occurs as expected, it could mean localized flooding, more downed trees, and more downed power lines for residents still reeling from the effects of the recent ice storm and other winter weather, according to the county.

“There’s a 50 to 60 percent chance we’ll see above average precipitation during that period,” said Brianna Muhlstein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. “As we get closer to that time period, we will know more, but the actual quantities we don’t know yet.”

The NWS forecast shows a 70 to 90 percent chance of up to 2 inches of rain Friday through Saturday across the Coastal Range and Cascades.

Despite the potential rainfall, rivers are not expected to reach flood stage on Sunday or even early next week, although some residents may see the level rise to the “action phase”, where governments are advised to undertake some sort of mitigation effort, according to for NWS Portland in discussing the region’s outlook.

Although conditions may be “pleasant” on Sunday and Monday with high temperatures approaching 60 degrees, residents will likely see a return of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

If rainfall levels increase, governments will closely monitor river levels late next week.

“I assume that given the threatened state that a lot of the infrastructure is in, especially the trees after this event, enough wind and rain could cause more damage,” Muhlestein said.

Linn County residents should be aware of localized river and stream flooding, road flooding, landslides and downed branches or trees, according to emergency planners.

“Residents should do what they can to prepare for potential power outages and localized flooding,” Kincaid said. “Lane County, cities and utilities have worked hard to remove debris and restore power, but the amount of debris remaining along roadways could cause more water to accumulate next to or on roadways.”

The Linn County Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to prepare for the possibility of additional power outages by:

  • Collect food, medical supplies, batteries, pet supplies and other items family members need during a power outage or evacuation for up to two weeks.
  • Keep cell phones fully charged in case of power outages. Consider using a car charger for cell phones and other electronic devices.
  • Keep vehicle fuel tanks at least half full because power outages may affect fuel pumps at gas stations.
  • Update your account online to ensure your utility provider has current contact information for notifications.
  • People with medical conditions that require power get the care they need by contacting their service provider before a service outage to record a medical certificate.
  • Consider purchasing a backup generator or locating an alternative for your power needs.

Haley Kochanski is a breaking news and public safety reporter for The Register-Guard. You can contact her at HKochanski@gannett.com.

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