PORTLAND, Ore. Untold numbers of residents found themselves in the dark Monday as hurricane-force winds and heavy rain battered the Northwest for a second day, blocking roads with trees, power lines, high water and mud.
Two flood-related deaths were reported near Chehalis, Wash., and Oregon transportation officials warned drivers not to attempt passage through the Coast Range as the second of two storms blew through.
"This storm is hitting the coast so hard, it's not leaving any road open," Transportation Department spokeswoman Christine Miles said.
The first wave of severe weather in the Northwest, which hit Sunday, was expected to reach the Upper Midwest with snow today, the National Weather Service said. That region had already been battered over the weekend by ice and snow before the storm blew into the Northeast on Monday.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a statewide emergency. Helicopter rescues were being launched for stranded hikers and some homeowners trapped by flooding, state emergency management officials said.
Mudslides halted north-south Amtrak passenger train service between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Wind gusts of more than 100 mph were reported along the Oregon coast, with the highest reading at 129 mph at Bay City, the Weather Service said. Gusts hit 81 mph at Hoquiam, Wash., it said.
Most major roads in southwest Washington's Grays Harbor and Pacific counties were closed, and at one point early Monday nearly every road into Aberdeen was closed.
"In 30 years of law enforcement, it's as bad as I've ever seen," said Grays Harbor County Sheriff Michael J. Whelan, whose own truck was smashed in his driveway by a falling tree.
Telephone and other communications were so were so tenuous that it was impossible to determine how many people were forced out of their homes, said Abby Kershaw of Oregon Emergency Management.
The Red Cross opened a shelter at the Tillamook County, Ore., fairgrounds and drew at least 30 people, but communications were so broken that the organization couldn't determine how many more might have arrived, said spokeswoman Lise Harwin.
Amateur radio operators said they were trying to help with communications as Oregon's Columbia, Clatsop and Tillamook counties experienced spotty or absent telephone service.
Pacific Power reported 40,000 homes without power in Oregon, and it could be days before electricity is fully restored, the utility said. Transmission poles 100 feet tall were toppled, and large sections of lines lay on the ground.
"The ground is saturated from intensive rainfall and trees are leaning into power lines and dropping to the ground," the utility said in a statement.
The Grays Harbor County Public Utility District in Washington reported 33,000 customers without electricity. Two of the utility's workers were injured, one seriously, when a windblown tree hit their lift truck bucket, sheriff's deputy David A. Pimentel said. Repair crews were pulled off the streets early Monday because of the hazard, utility officials said.
The Weather Service issued flood warnings in Oregon for seven coastal rivers and two inland. The storms curtailed state government functions, as driver's license and employment offices in Columbia County filled with flood waters.
More than 3 inches of rain fell in six hours Monday morning at Shelton and Bremerton, Wash., the Weather Service said. That brought Shelton's 30-hour total to 5.72 inches.
"There's nothing. You can't get in or out," homeowner Yvonne Powers said in the southwest Washington town of Pe Ell, on the Chehalis River.
In Oregon, the twin systems fell most heavily on the northern part of the coast, where crabbers hoping to get the first of the season's Dungeness crabs stayed in port.
The Coast Guard station in Astoria lost communication with its command center, and the service launched a C-130 Hercules plane from Sacramento, Calif., to patrol the northern coast and handle distress calls.
The high winds snapped a 206-foot Sitka spruce that had shared honors with one in Washington for the nation's largest. It had attracted 100,000 visitors a year.
"The tree will now die," state forester Paul Ries said. "It's a sad event, but not unexpected. It's part of the natural cycle of the tree."
People in the Midwest began bracing for the Northwest systems to move their way even as they dug out from a storm that hampered travel over the weekend. That system moved into the Northeast on Monday and has been blamed for more than 15 deaths, mostly in traffic accidents.
School was canceled or classes delayed from New York to Maine as highways turned slippery and wind gusted to 40 mph. Ice storm warnings were issued for Massachusetts and Connecticut, and winter storm warnings were in effect in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and northern and western New York.
Still, the winter weather spelled success for ski areas in New England that suffered through an abysmal winter last year. In Vermont, 7 inches of snow welcomed skiers and snowboarders Monday morning.
"It's not snow. It's white gold," said Christopher Francis, innkeeper at Ye Olde England Inne, a 30-room establishment in the shadow of Stowe Mountain Resort.