Major Oregon storm will hit today. Here’s where to expect 70 MPH winds and flooding

Zach Urness  Salem Statesman Journal
Published 2:58 PM EST Dec 17, 2018
A major storm is heading to Oregon today into Wednesday.
National Weather Service, Portland

The biggest storm of the season will slam northwest Oregon Monday night and Tuesday, bringing potential flooding and winds up to 70 MPH.

The storm will slam the Oregon Coast around noon today before arriving in the Willamette Valley around 4 p.m., meteorologists said.

Power outages and small-scale flooding are possible across the region.

The system is an “atmospheric river” that’s bringing heavy moisture from the tropics, but will also keep temperatures warm and likely melt much of the state’s snowpack.

Storm hits hardest on Oregon Coast

On the coast, the area expected to be hit hardest include Lincoln City, Newport and Florence, which are expected to see high surf, winds and flooding danger. Winds are forecast to reach 70 MPH and a high surf advisory will remain in effect.

“People are really going to want to stay off the jetties, rocks and beaches at the coast,” National Weather Service meteorologist Laurel McCoy said. “There will be very dangerous conditions.”

Three to six inches of rain is forecast or the coast, bringing flooding danger particularly to the Wilson River near Tillamook and Siletz River outside Lincoln City.

“The good news is that the rivers are starting off lower than they’d normally be,” McCoy said. “We could still see some flooding issues, but it would normally be much worse.”

Willamette Valley hit with big winds

In the Willamette Valley, winds are expected to hit hardest in the south and central regions, including around Salem. Winds are expected to average 25 to 35 MPH, with gusts up to 50 MPH and even 60 MPH, McCoy said.

Rainfall totals around Salem are expected at 1.5 to 2 inches, with higher amounts of 2 to 2.5 inches expected around Portland.

Only small-scale flooding is likely, and include the Upper Tualatin River in Washington County, the Clackamas River in Clackamas County, and Johnson Creek in Multnomah and Clackamas counties, warning said.

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Bad news for skiing

Temperatures will stay warm during the storm, with snow levels rising all the way to 6,500 to 7,000 feet, McCoy said.

That’s bad news for local ski areas, which will get drenched in rain and likely lose a lot of snowpack.

Oregon’s snowpack is already behind schedule, at 49 to 59 percent of normal statewide.

“This is definitely not going to help our snowpack,” McCoy said.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for 11 years. He is the author of the book “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.