Power out for thousands in NW

More than 40,000 lose power in Oregon, flash flood warnings in California, power returns in MA after two weeks


Tens of thousands of people in the Pacific Northwest greeted Christmas morning in darkened and cold homes as a result of severe storms that were also blamed for at least 30 deaths.

In Oregon, PGE, the state's biggest utility, said Wednesday night that more than 40,000 customers were still without electricty, down from more than 300,000 who had lost power last weekend.

Driving was so severe Wednesday that drivers in Portland were being required to have chains or four wheel drive vehicles with snow tires. In Olympia, WA, the combined weight of ice, snow and water, collapsed part of the roof on a local high school.

In nearby Gladstone, emergency officials have warned residents to clear snow from flat roofs. Dozens of trailers in a mobile home park that caters primarily to lower income and/or elderly residents, have already been damaged by the storm.

Winter weather has already made its mark across the country. In Chicago, 22 inches of snow has already fallen this year, up from 12 inches at this point last year and far above the average for this time of year of seven inches.

In Santa Barbara County, California, residents near the area burned by the Tea Wildfire this fall, were under a flash flood watch. The county planned to distribute sandbags to residents on Friday.

While Oregon residents greeted Christmas without power, on Wednesday some of the last Massachusetts residents who had lost power in an ice storm on Dec. 12, had their power restored. "It was like a Merry Christmas gift from nature," said one resident when the power came back on.

A three-day search for a woman near Hamilton in rural Ontario who had left to go grocery shopping in the midst of a blizzard, ended happily this week when searchers found her alive but trapped in a snowbank. She was hospitalized in serious condition suffering from frosbite.

But in northern Utah, an avalanche was blamed on the deaths of two snowmobilers.

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