PORTLAND, Ore. — The spring's second storm left much of Oregon west of the Cascade Range under the threat of floods Friday, and raised questions about whether the mountain snowpack that rebounded from a winter shortage would suffer from a warm, rainy front.
The snowpack is a few percentage points above average statewide and may be able to withstand the heavy rains in this week's storm, a federal hydrologist said.
If the weather cools down enough this weekend, the snow at lower elevations can capture rainwater, said Jon Lea of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He said the snowpack continues to build at higher elevations,
The snowpack is critical for summer irrigation, recreation and water supplies, but early in the winter it was below average. Wetter weather near the beginning of spring, including a big storm a week ago, has brightened the situation considerably.
Lea said the snowpack is 104 percent of average statewide. It's as low as 54 percent in the Owyhee basin in far eastern Oregon and as high as 131 percent near Mount Hood.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service said heavy rains and high winds were expected to last into Saturday. Rain forecasts were widespread through the state, with forecasters watching for possible flooding in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon.
Through Saturday, rainfall could total 3 to 7 inches near the coast and 1 to 3 inches in the Willamette Valley, the Weather Service said.
The Coast Guard closed navigation bars at Depoe Bay and the Chetco River.
Oregon Transportation Department crews removed an estimated 400 cubic yards of rocky debris from U.S. 101 south of Port Orford, opening a single lane of traffic on the southern Oregon coast highway by Friday afternoon. A landslide blocked that roadway Thursday night.
Cities braced for flooded streets and downed trees, in some cases even as they were still cleaning up after the March 21 storm.
In Eugene, for example, the Register-Guard reported that city utility crews had about half the debris off the roadways, after nine days of extra hours.
The cost of cleaning up the parks is expected to near $200,000, and the Water and Electric Board reported spending $650,000 so far for storm cleanup, not including the cost of tree-clearing contractors.
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