Flood watch raises threat of landslides as snow lurks in forecast

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EUGENE, Ore. - Floods, landslides, maybe even snow - in other words, this Thursday in Oregon.

Forecasters have identified a number of hazardous scenarios in the weather as travelers gear up for the Christmas holiday weekend.

The Siuslaw and other western Oregon rivers are under a flood watch as forecasters expect heavy warm rain to fall on recent snow, pushing rivers that drain the Coast Range over their banks.

"Periods of heavy rain along with some snowmelt will cause sharp rises on several rivers and creeks draining the coast range in Northwest Oregon," the National Weather Service said. "Some rivers may approach or exceed flood stage. At this time only minor flooding is expected."

The rain and snowmelt increase the threat of landslides and debris flows, the Oregon Department of Geology said Wednesday.

"Some areas are more hazardous than others when the danger of landslides is high," state geologists cautioned. "If there is a flood warning, stay away from the river. Stay away from steep slopes during intense rainstorms. Knowing ahead of time where the danger areas around your home for potential landslides might be is the first step in being prepared."

In addition to the Siuslaw, the Alsea, Marys and Luckiamute are under flood watch, forecasters said, as well as the Lower Nehalem and Wilson rivers.

Gusty winds move into the Willamette Valley on Wednesday night with the snow level falling to 500 feet or lower by Thursday morning. Whether or not snow will accompany the cold air depends on how much moisture the next weather system brings ashore, forecasters said.

"If this does happens - and it is not certain that it will - then several inches of snow could fall in the area."

Benton County offers sand bags

In anticipation of potential flooding, Benton County will be offering sandbagging stations at the following locations:

  • Benton County Fairgrounds, 110 SW 53rd St., in Corvallis in the southwest corner of the south parking lot;
  • North 20th Place in Philomath;
  • The Benton County Public Works Alsea yard; and
  • Residents of Philomath and Corvallis can find sand and bags at sites inside those city limits, and for more information residents can contact their cities' Public Works departments.

Residents should bring their own shovels to fill the bags. Sandbags also can be purchased locally.

Wind, rain and snow also can cause other hazards. If residents observe a downed tree that is creating a public safety concern such as blocking a street or road, they can report it by calling 541-766-6821. Do NOT call 911 for downed trees or other issues that are not creating an immediate hazard.