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Originally published Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 4:32 PM

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Strong winds slam Oregon coast, knock out power

Winds gusting as high as 110 mph hammered parts of the Oregon coast Wednesday, knocking down trees, causing power outages and disrupting traffic.

Associated Press

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SALEM, Ore. —

Winds gusting as high as 110 mph hammered parts of the Oregon coast Wednesday, knocking down trees, causing power outages and disrupting traffic.

The winter storm brought little snow at low elevations but lots of rain and plenty of inconveniences.

News outlets reported a wind gust of 110 mph at Cape Foulweather, 99 mph at Cape Blanco and 69 mph at the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport.

KCST-FM radio in Florence reported 88 mph gusts and power outages in the area. The station also said a tree fell onto a car and injured a woman.

Wind pushed a tractor-trailer into a pickup traveling the opposite direction on the bridge spanning Yaquina Bay, pinning the small truck against the guardrail and blocking both lanes of U.S. Highway 101 in Newport, police said. Nobody was injured.

Officials in Coos and Lincoln counties each said they've responded to reports of about 20 downed trees blocking roadways. The numbers were typical for a winter storm, they said, and crews were keeping up.

Crews closed roads throughout the Coast Range when downed trees blocked travel. One lane of Interstate 5 near downtown Portland was shut down because of high water, causing long backups. I-84 was blocked in both directions east of Biggs after a tractor-trailer crashed into a guardrail.

Most roads had reopened by Wednesday evening.

The U.S. Coast Guard closed entrances to Depoe Bay and the Siuslaw and Umpqua rivers.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings around portions of three rivers, and the state Oregon Department of Geology warned of the potential for flooding, landslides and debris flows - rapidly moving landslides that can destroy anything in their path.

After intense rainfall, officials said, anyone near steep slopes should be on alert for signs of danger like the sound of trees cracking or a sudden change in the flow of a stream.

Weather service forecasters expected the Siuslaw River to jump its banks near Mapleton in Lane County, starting about 6 p.m. Wednesday. Forecasts indicated the river would crest Thursday evening at 4 1/2 feet above flood stage.

Flood warnings were also in effect for the Marys and Luckiamute rivers. Flood advisories covered much of the Willamette Valley.

The storm began moving in Tuesday night, bringing some snow that changed to rain early Wednesday as temperatures warmed.

Wet snow coated tree branches and power lines early Wednesday, resulting in power outages for thousands in the greater Portland metro area.

Shutter Creek prison in North Bend was running on generators after a power outage. Prison officials canceled programs and off-site work crews, and inmates were restricted to their housing units and the yard, said Jennifer Black, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Pacific Power officials said 1,700 customers lost power in that area. At the peak statewide, the company had 5,200 customers without electricity.

Early Wednesday morning, 30,000 customers of Portland General Electric were without power. By afternoon, more than 16,000 still didn't have service.

PGE had more than 100 crews out restoring power, spokeswoman Elaina Medina said.

Late Tuesday, a specially equipped pediatric ambulance lost traction on the steep road leading to the hospital while transporting a 3-month-old infant. The unit was freed with help from paramedics from a separate ambulance, said officials from American Medical Response Northwest, which operates the rescue ambulance.

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