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Wind and Rain Pummel Pacific Northwest

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credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
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SEATTLE (AP) — Rain and wind pounded Washington and Oregon on Monday, flooding streets, toppling large trucks, cutting power to more than 20,000 people and causing at least one death.

Nearly 2 inches of rain fell in six hours in one Seattle neighborhood — a total that Seattle Public Utilities meteorologist James Rufo-Hill called “extraordinary.”

“It was a pretty big storm for most of the city — lots of rain in a relatively short amount of time,” he said, but several neighborhoods “really got drenched.”

The drenching rain caused widespread reports of flooded roads and highways, some residential flooding and even sewage overflows in parts of Seattle and Everett. Several blocks of downtown streets were briefly flooded in Port Orchard, west of Seattle.

Wet weather was expected to continue through the week, but National Weather Service meteorologist Jay Neher in Seattle said Monday night that the “heavy rain is over.”

“We’re into showers now,” he said.

On Oregon’s northwest coast, a hunter was killed Monday morning when a tree crashed on his tent near Nehalem. Two hunters in an adjacent camp heard the tree snap as gusts reached more than 70 mph, and saw it lying across the tent. They cut it away in an attempt to rescue the man, to no avail.

Tillamook County Sheriff Andy Long identified the hunter as Nathan Christensen, 52, of Seattle.

A Portland police officer was seriously injured during all-terrain vehicle training when a tree fell. Sgt. Pete Simpson said the accident on Hayden Island in the Columbia River appeared to be weather-related.

In southwest Washington, a Washington State Patrol car and another vehicle were struck by a tree carried by a mudslide on U.S. Highway 101 near Naselle.

The patrol car started burning, and the trooper had to break a window to crawl to safety. The trooper was unhurt, and the female driver of the other vehicle was OK except for neck pain. Both vehicles were destroyed by the fire.

Strong winds overturned large commercial trucks on two highways Monday. One tractor-trailer rig tipped over while crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge that carries U.S. 101 across the Columbia River. That caused a lengthy traffic headache.

Another tractor-trailer rig was blown onto its side in the middle of the Chehalis River Bridge in Aberdeen, on the Washington coast, Aberdeen police said.

Peak wind gusts in Washington reached 101 mph on the Astoria bridge and 61 mph at Hoquiam on the coast. They hit 114 mph on isolated Naselle Ridge in the mountains of southwest Washington, the Weather Service reported.

Puget Sound Energy reported 24,000 electricity outages at mid-afternoon in its western Washington service area, with most service restored by mid-evening. Other area utilities reported scattered outages.

The Washington Transportation Department closed the North Cascades Highway on Monday because of avalanche danger from quickly deepening snow.

Flood warnings were issued for a handful of western Washington rivers, with moderate flooding expected Tuesday along the Chehalis River in the Centralia area. Residents there were told where to find sandbags and were directed to move any endangered livestock to higher ground.

The Weather Service reported 24-hour rainfall totals as of Monday evening that included 4.09 inches in Bremerton, west of Seattle; 2.97 inches at Hoquiam on the Washington coast; and 6 inches at Cushman Dam on the Olympic Peninsula.

Forecasters expect 9 to 30 inches of snow in the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, mostly above 4,000 feet. Changing periods of rains, snow or freezing rain likely will make driving a challenge through the Cascade highway passes.

The Pacific storms are rolling across eastern Washington with the same mix of mountain snow and valley rains with a chance of minor flooding.

– Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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