Weekend weather runs gauntlet

Flooding in the Pacific Northwest, tornadoes in the Mid-South, snow and ice moves to northeast


Yet another snowstorm pushed through the Portland area Sunday evening, but warming temperatures threatened to turn the snow into rain, triggering the prospect of more flooding in the area which is just now recovering from flooding and mudslides that came with the new year.

Before the snow began Sunday, Highway 26 was opened after being blocked for days by a landslide that washed mud, rocks, trees and a pair of cars from a higher roadway onto the heavily traveled roadway. A house in the area was destroyed. Though no one was hurt by the incident, the road, which leads to busy ski resorts on Mount Hood, was closed in both directions on what is traditionally one of the busiest weekends for the resorts.

Twenty-one homes in the area were evacuated. Elsewhere, a trailer park in Clackamas County was evacuated due to flooding there. Many roads in the county were closed and the local library lost thousands of books when a mudslide crept through the first floor stacks. Officials in that county declared a state of emergency.

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office reported a body found floating in the Clackamas River and believe it might be a 46-year-old Eagle Creek woman who was reported missing. Detective Jim Strovink says searchers found the body Sunday afternoon. The swift current, caused by flood waters throughout the region, has prevented deputies from reaching a vehicle spotted submerged in the river a short distance from the body, so they have been unable to confirm it belongs to the missing woman.

Other highways have been closed during the last week due to flooding and mudslides. There have been few reports of damage to personal property, though residents of an island near Highway 205 were cut off from the mainland when the bridge connecting them was washed out by rushing water. Local volunteers built a footbridge to the island so supplies could be brought across.

The risk of roof collapse caused a Spokane-area Costco to close Friday and hire a contractor to shovel its roof. In addition, three Wal-Mart stores were closed in the region while snow was cleared from their roofs. In Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a business owner and his dog narrowly escaped from a jewelry store before the roof caved in.

Elsewhere in the country, flooding is threatening homes and businesses. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning in the New Orleans area for northern Jefferson, Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, with as much as six to ten inches of rain expected to fall by late Sunday. Earlier in the weekend, severe storms were reported across the lower Mississippi Valley on Saturday including unconfirmed reports of several tornadoes. One report said a twister touched down two miles west of Alexandria, La., tearing the roof off a house. No other damage associated with the storm was reported. The rain is expected to ease a bit on Monday, but a cold front is forecast to move through the area on Tuesday evening, bringing the threat of more thunderstorms and possible flooding.

Meanwhile, a storm that moved from the central Plains into the Midwest over the weekend will keep heading to the northeastern part of the country into Monday, spreading snow and ice into eastern Canada and the northeastern part of the U.S. That storm, mixing with the cold air already in place in the Midwest, will bring an icy mix to the New England, New York and Pennsylvania on Monday which is expected to make travel conditions a bit treacherous across the region.

According to meteorologists at Accuweather.com, the stormy pattern in the Northwest will persist at least through mid-week before a large dome of high pressure will change the storm track into the Pacific coast. The rain from the series of storms could add to recent problems with flooding and mudslides. And, another system is expected to bring snow to the higher elevations of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado until Monday morning, when it will begin to move east, bringing more rain and thunderstorms across the Deep South.

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