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North Ore. coast expects wind, rain and landslides

By Nigel Duara

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 24 2012 8:55 p.m. MST

Railroad workers toil on a trestle above the flooded Pudding River south of Woodburn, Ore., on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Oregon forecasters say heavy rains expected this week across much of Western Oregon could bring more flooding. High winds are also expected along the coast.

Statesman Journal, Thomas Patterson, Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — The north Oregon coast is bracing for another round of rain on its soggy soil, creating ripe conditions for landslides in a region that has endured a week of flood threats.

Rivers rose Tuesday as a series of winter storms continued to blow through the region. Coastal rivers, including the Nehalem and Tillamook, were expected to reach or exceed their flood stages Wednesday.

National Weather Service hydrologist Andy Bryant said if there is more rain than expected, moderate flooding could hit the north coast, but it's unlikely to match the flooding that struck the area last week.

"What we saw last week was several rivers that had major or moderate flooding," Bryant said. "It affected roads, private property, homes, and we're expecting to see less of that."

Bryant said gusts up to 65 mph were also forecast to pelt the coast, with rough seas expected.

"It's nothing to mess around with," Bryant said.

Near-freezing conditions, heavy precipitation and high water levels prompted the Clackamas County sheriff's office to suspend a search for a 6-year-old girl who fell in the Clackamas River last Sunday while playing in the snow with her parents.

Tuesday's search yielded three items of little Vinesa Snegur's clothing, including a fleece jacket found underwater, zipped up and turned inside out. Water rescue experts said the condition of the clothing indicates the child's body is likely trapped underwater on a snag and the force of the water pulled the clothing off, Sgt. James Rhodes said late Tuesday.

Search dogs trained to identify human scent and other searchers combed both banks of the river for miles and found no indication the child made it out of the water, Rhodes said.

The waterway is running fast and cold from recent winter storms.

Bryant said rivers will rise in the Willamette Valley but are unlikely to flood. The exception is the Pudding River near Aurora, which exceeded its 22-foot flood stage Thursday and has stayed above flooding level since.

"Any flooding would be minor and not as significant as last week," Bryant said.

East of Portland, in the Columbia River Gorge, a moderate dusting of snow was expected, affecting highway driving.

In northeast Oregon near Baker City, Oregon State Police said a woman was killed Tuesday afternoon when she lost control of her pickup truck on snow- and ice-covered Interstate 84 and rolled the vehicle. The crash was under investigation but troopers said heavy snow was falling at the time.

Last week, flooding was blamed for two deaths and soaked cities up and down the Willamette River valley.

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