Winds buffeted the North Coast amid on and off rain lunchtime Sunday with emergency crews on standby anticipating the second phase of the giant storm into the evening. Hurricane-force winds of up to 100 mph could hit the region later Sunday night and early Monday morning, weather forecasters say.

Beachcombers and storm watchers are advised to stay away from the beaches.

Check Seaside-Sun.com Web site at www.dailyastorian.com for updates as fresh information becomes available.

The U.S. Coast Guard may close multiple river bars throughout Oregon and Washington because of the feared bad weather. The bars may include the Columbia River, the Nehalem River, Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay, Depoe Bay and Yaquina Bay.

"As of 11:15 a.m. none of the bars are closed to recreational or commercial shipping, but we are encountering swells of eight to 11 feet so we strongly advise recreational boaters not to cross the bars," Jeff Pollinger, spokesman for the 13th District Coast Guard, told The Daily Astorian late Sunday morning.

Should extreme weather require closure of all or a portion of the bars, the Coast Guard will broadcast a notice to mariners with regulation advisories. Mariners may request permission to sail through these waters, or obtain current river bar status, by contacting the Coast Guard on Channel VHF-16.

The Coast Guard airlifted a 24-year-old man from a fishing vessel five miles northwest of Tillamook Saturday.

The master of the 77-foot vessel Lady Kate contacted Coast Guard Air Station Astoria by VHF channel 16 at 1:02 a.m. to request assistance after the man was struck by a crab pot and injured.

An HH-60 helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria was launched and later hoisted the man at 1:56 a.m. The crew transferred him to an awaiting ambulance in Astoria at 2:26 a.m. The man was then transferred to Columbia Memorial Hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

Ilwaco, Ocean Park schools will be late

Already some agencies are preparing for the worst. In Washington Sunday morning, Ocean Beach School District announced a 2-hour delay Monday morning and school leaders in Ilwaco are warning of possible closures depending on wind and power conditions.

Rain and sleet battered Astoria and Seaside Saturday with relentless rain through the night. The region woke up to more rain. U.S. Highway 30 was clear but very wet at 8 a.m. Sunday, with rain washing away the snow accumulations in all but the higher sections east of Clatskanie. The Clatsop summit, immediately west of the Wauna Mill, was shrouded in fog at that time, slowing car and truck traffic to a crawl.

Gale warnings were issued until 4 a.m. Sunday from Cape Shoalwater, Wash. to Florence followed by a storm warning until Sunday evening. Hurricane-force wind warnings - of winds that could reach up to 100 mph - are in effect from Sunday night until Monday morning. Monday waves are predicted to reach up to 45 feet.

High seas feared

Astoria Regional Dispatch forwarded a marine weather warning for all coastal waters from Cape Shoalwater, Wash., to Cascade Head.

The warning said hurricane-force winds were possible across southern Washington and north and central Oregon coast Sunday and Monday. It said that a low-pressure system will move ashore in western Washington Sunday afternoon, bringing storm-force winds to ocean waters through Sunday afternoon. Another more potent low-pressure system will rapidly develop further offshore and deepen by Sunday night.

Wind speeds in excess of 70 knots are possible over coastal waters Monday morning. This strong system will also cause seas to rise as high as 40 feet on Monday. Seas in excess of 30 feet will begin around 8 p.m. Sunday night and last through early Tuesday morning.

Power company, county gearing up

Pacific Power crews are preparing for the storm by putting key staff in position before potential difficulties.

"In anticipation of the wind, snow and heavy rain, we've already staged crews to assist in potentially hard-hit areas, especially along the coast," said Bill Eaquinto, vice president, operations for Pacific Power. "Just as our crews are prepared to respond to outages, we ask our customers to be prepared as well and help us keep their safety and well-being the top priority."

County and other local emergency officials met Friday afternoon for a conference call briefing from the National Weather Service. Afterward, county officials met to discuss their plans to respond to storm problems.

Beachcombers and storm watchers are advised to stay away from the beaches.

The sheriff's office will open its emergency operations center Sunday night, or sooner if needed, to coordinate response efforts.

Public Works has staff lined up to be called in Sunday, if necessary, to clear roads of fallen trees. All of its trucks are gassed and equipped. Rock has been stockpiled in several locations around the county.

"We're ready," said Ed Wegner, director of the county Transportation and Development Department.

Strong winds later tonight

Two periods of very strong winds are expected Sunday and Monday along the North Oregon Coast. The first was expected to begin Sunday morning and continue through most of Sunday, with south winds 30 to 40 mph and gusts to 75 mph near headlands and beaches and 65 mph in coastal communities.

The National Weather Service expects the winds to decrease slightly Sunday night then increase even stronger late Sunday night and Monday to 30 to 50 mph with gusts to near 100 mph near the headlands and beaches and 80 mph in the coastal communities. The winds will decrease Monday night once the associated cold front pushes onshore. These winds - especially those late Sunday night and Monday - are strong enough to produce substantial damage and cause power outages, forecasters said. A high wind warning means a hazardous high wind is expected or occurring. Sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph, or gusts of 58 mph or more, can lead to property damage. Forecasters said Hood River and other areas of the Columbia River Gorge can expect "very hazardous or impossible" driving conditions after snow, sleet and freezing rain through the beginning of the weekend.

Snow in Western Washington

The National Weather Service is warning of more bad weather ahead, after snow fell across much of Washington on Sunday, including the lowlands of Western Washington.

Amounts were generally light, but the weather service says Eastern Washington can still expect snow on Sunday, including up to a foot along the east slopes of the Cascades and two feet or more in the mountains.

The bad weather is forecast to turn to heavy rain west of the Cascades on Sunday and Monday, leading to the possibility of flooding.

The weather service has issued a flood watch for most of Western Washington, from the Canadian border down through Lewis County. The flood watch is in effect from Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Tags