Jewell schools were closed and Knappa and some other districts delayed classes today as winter's latest snowfall meant hazardous and unpleasant driving conditions around the North Coast.

Law enforcement agencies were on alert to traffic problems while the U.S. Coast Guard warned of the need for fishermen to take extra care on the ocean and in the Columbia River.

The National Weather Service warned that wind gusts today could reach as high as 40 mph and rain will continue most of the day.

Wednesday will see a 30 percent chance of showers with decreasing winds and sunshine reappearing Thursday.

Jewell schools were closed for the second day Tuesday while Knappa and Clatskanie schools plus Naselle and Wahkiakum districts in Washington all started two hours late.

The icy conditions that led to the school closures and delays Monday also contributed to more than a dozen accidents that kept local law enforcement agencies busy helping motorists.

The mishaps began with a log truck off the road near Westport at 4:26 a.m. Monday. At 5:32 a.m. a pickup truck hit the guardrail on the causeway of the new Youngs Bay Bridge. At 6:35 a.m. Monday, a vehicle was on its side off U.S. Highway 26 near the Cannon Beach junction. And on it went, with rollovers and crashes in Warrenton on Ridge Road and on U.S. Highway 30 in the Knappa area.

Perhaps the slipperiest road was Highway 26, with accidents from the Cannon Beach junction to as far east as Elsie. Some motorists on 26 were chaining up as vehicles were reported sliding all over the road. At 10:27 a.m. Monday, a red SUV was on its top on Highway 26, just west of Saddle Mountain Road, and a few miles farther east there was a jack-knifed U-Haul.

The Coast Guard is warning boaters to be extra cautious as wind and waves are expected to surge to dangerous levels over the next 24 hours.

The Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook and a gale warning for coastal waters between Cape Shoalwater, Wash., and Florence. Gale winds are expected to rise to between 35 and 40 knots midday and then diminish to 30 to 35 knots this afternoon with swells reaching 18 feet. Showers are expected this evening.

Early Wednesday will be blustery as well, but the wind should slow to 20 to 25 knots with gusts to 30 knots. Swells could be as high as 18 to 21 feet, however.

Later Wednesday and throughout the rest of the week, the forecast improves, with wind speeds not expected to exceed 20 knots.

In Astoria, Petty Officer First Class Victoria Caloca, an operations specialist, monitors the weather for the Coast Guard's daily broadcasts. Caloca said it's a time to take extra precautions if you must be out on the water today.

"We definitely wouldn't tell fisherman not to go out, because we realize it's how they make their living," Caloca said. "But we are recommending they be extra safe and be sure they have all their safety equipment checked."

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