New storm slams into Pacific Northwest

Of the Associated Press

SEATTLE — Heavy rain and strong wind gusts are blasting the Pacific Northwest after a one-day break from a series of storms that killed at least two people in Oregon. Higher elevations can expect snow.

The National Weather Service in Seattle issued a winter weather advisory for Saturday through Sunday afternoon. With a snow level set at 2,500 feet, the region's mountains are bracing for snow and traffic officials at mountain passes are advising and in some cases requiring traction tires.

Forecasters expect 1 to 2 feet of snow to fall in the Cascades and up to a foot in the Olympics.

The Oregon Department of Transportation closed the High Cascades, Diamond Lake and Carter Lake highways on Saturday afternoon because of blizzard conditions.

The Red Cross in Oregon and Washington has set up shelters for people affected by flooding, road closures, landslides and power outages.

In Washington, the Red Cross shelter is at Kelso High School. In Oregon, the disaster resource center is at Clatskanie High School.

The new storm follows a series of storms that caused rivers to overflow their banks, sent boulders and trees on to highways and spawned a rare tornado that hit Battle Ground, Washington, on Friday with 100-plus mph winds.

The federal government set early damage estimates in Oregon at about $15 million. In Washington, damage estimates were pegged at $5 million.

White Pass on U.S. 12 in Washington remained closed Saturday as transportation crews tried to stabilize a section of road that was washed out in recent storms. The damage and closure of the road forced White Pass Ski Resort shut down operations just at the mountains were seeing heavy snowfall.

Transportation officials say they have several areas of concern -- a rockslide and three washouts.

The storms continue to cause headaches for drivers in Clark and Cowlitz counties in Washington.

Two lanes of northbound Interstate 5 north of Woodland will remain open, but a single lane will remain closed indefinitely after a recent landslide sent debris on to the roadway, the Washington State Department of Transportation said Saturday.

Engineers continue to monitor the slope's stability.

“By keeping a single lane closed, traffic will continue to move safely while we develop our next steps for stabilizing the hillside,” said Kris Strickler, southwest regional administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “We appreciate the hard work of the crews clearing the debris from the slide and appreciate the patience from the traveling public.”

No additional debris is expected to hit the open lanes, thanks to concrete barriers.

Transportation officials plan to install monitoring devices this weekend to track potential for further movement of the slope.

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