The North Coast is digging its way out of its triple whammy. Three weekend storms left the region battered and bruised by stormy winds and torrential and concerted rain, oddly punctuated by periods of dry, sunny weather.

The bad weather was on and off all weekend with Friday, Saturday and Sunday storms that appeared to worsen each time, culminating in a Sunday morning blast that included thunder and lightning across the coast.

Some 3.56 inches of rainfall was reported in the greater Astoria area Saturday, making it the wettest September day in Astoria beating 1.15 inches set in 1893. Overall, the 10.51 inches recorded this September – as of 5 a.m. today – beat the earlier record set back in 1906.

The National Weather Service reported 5 inches between 10 a.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Sunday at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warenton. The Willapa Hills had more than 6 inches and Tillamook had 5 inches in the same period.

“These are simply amazing stats for September and there is still more than 24 hours left in the month,” said Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, Sunday. Several other Oregon cities have also set records for rainfall in September.

As The Daily Astorian went to press today, the National Weather Service in Portland canceled a high surf warning after offshore waves subsided to below 20 feet. Large surf is still expected to continue tonight.

Wind gusts were especially high in the north and south of the Columbia Pacific region. On Saturday, Radar Ridge had reported a 85.2 mph gust with Megler Mountain reporting 80.2 mph and Cape Disappointment 61 mph. Garibaldi recorded a gust of 75 mph and Mount Hebo in Tillamook County recorded an 83 mph gust.

Tillamook sources reported power lines down along the Wilson River Highway and elsewhere, with intermittent power outages Saturday and wind gusts in Rockaway Beach that made standing upright difficult.

Many incidents

Throughout Clatsop County, law enforcement and emergency personnel were dispatched to weather-related incidents during the weekend. Pump station alarms for high water levels were reported repeatedly throughout the times of heavy rain in the city. There was also a brief power outage reported at the Astoria Headworks and access to the Astoria Column was closed.

At around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the Astoria Fire Department responded to a tree blocking Coxcomb Hill one-third of the way up to the Astoria Column. Trees were also reported down at Bagley Lane, Lewis and Clark Road, Airport Lane, Eighth Street and Franklin Avenue in Astoria, on Lower Nehalem Road and on U.S. Highway 30 near Knappa. At Seventh Street and Jerome Avenue in Astoria a branch was down and smoking on a power line.

At 5:49 p.m. Saturday, Astoria Police and Astoria Public Works were notified of granite panels that had fallen from the Maritime Memorial and shattered. The caller said they were concerned winds would cause more panels to fall. 

At 7:16 p.m. Saturday, a resident on Pine Drive in Warrenton requested fire department response for a fallen tree on a gazebo. A large metal sign was blowing around in traffic Saturday afternoon at North Coast Auto. Astoria Police responded. Sheet metal and cables were reportedly blowing around on the Astoria Bridge several times Saturday. A caller at 9:34 a.m. said a piece of the flying debris hit the caller’s car. A cable was also reportedly hanging over the shipping channel.

Flooding of a street drain was sending water into a resident’s basement on 38th Street Saturday morning. Water was also reported in the basement of a residence on Niagara Avenue and in the 1300 block of Eighth Street.

Event decisions

The Pacific Northwest Brew Cup in Astoria went ahead. Volunteers Colleen Henderson, of Astoria, and Mike Mund, of Astoria, were among those filling tasting mugs from a trailer containing seven kegs of beer Saturday. The weekend’s pouring rain and howling winds moved the event from its original location at the Barbey Maritime Center Friday to the Astoria Event Center on Ninth Street Saturday and Sunday. The wind and rain didn’t deter Mund, of Astoria, who works for Custom Excavation. “I’m out in this all the time. I don’t mind,” he said. “It makes things more interesting.”

However, board members of the Astoria Sunday Market took heed of the forecast and canceled Sunday’s third-to-last market of the season.

The Oregon Coast beach cleanup by SOLVE volunteers Saturday was canceled, although the inland portion went ahead in the Willamette Valley with 1,200 volunteers collecting trash from Hood River to Medford.

“The safety of all of our volunteers is our first priority,” said Maureen Fisher, SOLVE’s executive director.  

“We are already working with each of the coordinators for the 47 sites along the coast to reschedule a cleanup in the next few weeks. After this storm, there will be even more trash and debris on the beaches for us all to clean up.

“Anytime volunteers want to clean up Oregon’s beaches, SOLVE will gladly support those efforts.”

At sea

Maritime activity was curtailed because of the high surf warning and treacherous conditions which caused the partial closure by the U.S. Coast Guard of the Columbia River Bar, restricting it to commercial traffic at the discretion of the Columbia River Bar Pilots.

Holland America canceled the planned cruise ship visits of the Zuiderdam Sunday and the Westerdam today even before the storm hit. The Norwegian Cruise Line also canceled the Norwegian Pearl’s visit today, indicating that the vessel would continue to San Francisco and bypass Astoria. Capt. Tommy Stensrud was apologetic to cruise host Bruce Conner of Astoria. “Gale force winds are expected for the entire Pacific Northwest region with wave heights of up to 7 meters,” the captain wrote in an email. “I do not expect the conditions to improve significantly.”

The decision meant at last 14 Astoria-based cruise passengers had to take the train from Kelso, Wash., to San Francisco to catch up with the Norwegian Pearl.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which closed several bars up and down the Oregon and Washington coasts, reported no other major action besides the rescue of a sailboater off of Tillamook Bay.

On the North Coast and in southwest Washington, the Coast Guard closed the Tillamook Bay and Grays Harbor bars Sunday night and reopened them this morning for commercial traffic. While the Columbia River Bar was not closed, there were restrictions imposed.

“This was our first major weather system of the season,” said Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley. “It was a good chance for people ... to get their weather legs under them and see just how bad the weather can get here in the Northwest.”

The man rescued near Tillamook contacted the Coast Guard to have them take him off his boat. Mosley said the Coast Guard wants boaters to carry the necessary equipment to assist in their location.

“EPIRBs save lives,” he said , using the jargon for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons, which broadcast out to rescuers once activated and provide a GPS location. “If they’ve got that, we know where they’re at and that they’re in trouble.”

More showers are expected through today and Tuesday with a chance of rain Wednesday and cloudy through the rest of the week, the National Weather Service said.



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