Flood Watch issued for Western Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. - Heavy rain and strong winds could batter the region starting late Thursday night and continuing through the weekend.

Western Oregon is under a Flood Watch starting Friday at 4 a.m. The watch is set to expire Sunday at 4 p.m.

Lane County Emergency Management urged residents living along rivers and creeks to be prepared for localized flooding.

Drivers should watch for high water on roadways and not attempt to drive through flooded roads.

Trees damaged by last weekend's ice storm might be susceptible to winds associated with the storm, the county warned.

Forecasters said the moisture comes from the "atmospheric river" - the meteorological pheonomenon formally known as a Pineapple Express.

The system taps warm, wet air from the tropics, delivering heavy rain to the Pacific Northwest.

"Two storms are expected to dump heavy rain on Northwest Oregon during the next several days," the National Weather Service in Portland said. "The first storm will begin bringing heavy rain to the area late Thursday night, with the highest amounts of around 2 to 3 inches expected to be in the central Coast Range of Oregon and the Cascades of Lane County.

"Around one half to one inch of rain is expected in the willamette valley, with the highest amounts in the south."

The rain will push higher the levels of rivers already swollen by melting snow, forecasters said.

"The second storm is expected Saturday with additional heavy rain," forecasters said. "Expect another 2 inches in the Coast Range and Cascades with 1/2 to 1 inch in the inland valleys."

The storms will arrive in rapid succession.

"There will be little time between these two systems for the rivers to recede, and flooding is likely across river basins in the central coast range, valleys and Lane County Cascades."

Forecasters identified "rivers of concern," including the Siuslaw and Mohawk rivers in Lane County; Marys River in Benton County; and the Luckiamute River in Benton and Polk counties; and the Willamette River near Harrisburg.

A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. Forecasters said landslides and debris flows are possible during this flood event.