Strong winds expected Sunday evening; blizzard warning for Cascades

PORTLAND, Ore. - The strongest storm of the year is set to hit Oregon late Sunday, bringing with it high winds and heavy snow in the Cascades.

The National Weather Service has issued a "high wind warning" for most of Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington that starts at 6 p.m. Sunday and lasts through noon on Monday.

"This is the strongest storm we've had this year," said KATU meteorologist Dave Salesky.

In the Cascades, the NWS issued a rare "blizzard warning" starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, saying people should expect 1-2 feet of snow about 3,000 feet. Above 4,000 feet, 2-3 feet of snow is expected.

The heavy snow combined with strong winds will limit visibility, forecasters said.

On the coast and in the Willamette Valley, meteorologists say we could see winds between 25-40 miles per hour early, then picking up to 40-45 miles per hour after midnight. Gusts could hit 60 miles per hour.

Salesky said the ground is already saturated, which combined with high winds could cause trees to topple.

"There is most likely going to be a lot of power outages," Salesky said.

The NWS also said that high-profile vehicles on I-5 and I-84 should also be prepared for strong winds.

Officials from the Oregon Department of Transportation also warned that drivers could encounter downed trees and powerlines along coastal and Coast Range roads. They warned people to delay trips to the coast if possible.

Early forecasts showed the brunt of the storm hitting the Seattle area, although on Sunday the forecast was revised with the storm making landfall on the Northern Oregon coast.

On Sunday evening, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue sent out this list of steps people should take to get ready for the storm:

  • Charge cell phones and other essential battery operated devices ahead of time.
  • In case of a power outage do not use gas, propane, or kerosene heating or cooking equipment designed for outdoor use indoors.
  • Avoid using candles and open flames inside, especially during this holiday season and around Christmas trees.
  • Keep flashlights, a battery powered radio, and a wind-up clock on hand.
  • Stay away from windows during high winds. High wind can cause windows to break, or blow debris into the window.
  • Use only wood in fireplaces and woodstoves.
  • Try to remain indoors during periods of high winds. If you do find yourself caught outside, seek shelter and be especially alert to overhead hazards, such as tree limbs and power lines.
  • If you encounter a downed power line, report it by calling 911 and keep people away. If a line should fall on a vehicle you are occupying, stay in the car. Call 911 and wait for help.

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