Windy storm rakes Northwest, snow level heads for 1,000 feet

Windy storm rakes Northwest, snow level heads for 1,000 feet »Play Video
A pickup sits mired in snow in the Timberline Lodge parking lot Monday morning. (KATU photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. - A powerful storm rolled over the Northwest Sunday night into Monday morning, giving residents a taste of winter just four days before the cold season officially begins on Dec. 21.

The High Wind Warning for Willamette Valley locations was lifted Monday morning after the region was raked by gusting winds at all elevations overnight. Warnings remain in place for other locations, according to the National Weather Service.

Around the Portland area, strong winds pushed trees down onto cars and power lines, leaving about 20,000 customers in the dark Monday morning according to posts on power utility websites. Crews were in the field working to restore the power. Check outage lists

A power line became entangled in a tree and began arcing brightly in North Portland. It was repaired quickly by a crew. Another outage left homes in the dark in Beaverton.

Wind and power outages forced some schools to cancel classes or delay opening Monday morning. Updated closure list

Wind warnings remained in effect for many areas, especially along the Oregon Coast and at upper elevations.

A Blizzard Warning was in effect until Monday evening for the Cascades but was downgraded to a Winter Storm Warning at about 10:30 a.m.

Blizzard Warnings sent out Sunday by the National Weather Service for upper elevations seemed to indicate that lower elevations were also at risk but that was due to the county involved in the warning. Blizzard conditions are not expected at lower elevations.

However, KATU Meteorologist Rhonda Shelby said the freezing level will drop during the day on Monday evening to about 1,000 feet, making snow in the highest hills around Portland a possibility.

"Many of you will see snow flying this week," Shelby said in a post to Twitter. She said to expect a  possible rain-snow mix on the valley floor, with up to an inch of snow sticking above 1,000 feet.

Watch a forecast update with Rhonda:

Travel over mountain passes was treacherous with limited visibility due to blowing snow. ODOT officials are urging caution and preparation for anyone attempting to drive over mountain passes.

Up in the Cascades, road crews worked to keep passes open as the wind howled, snow blew sideways and over a foot of new snow piled up at ski resorts. "It's really an adventure up here," one driver said as he worked to clear a roadway.

However, conditions were not expected to be good for skiing until the storm passed. Check the KATU Ski Report Page

Shelby said ski resorts could get several feet of new snow out the current weather pattern over the next several days.