Winter storm pounds Washington, Oregon -- again
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Web posted at: 8:30 a.m. EST
PORTLAND, Oregon (CNN) -- The second winter storm to hit the northwest in four days blew in from the Pacific Ocean overnight, dumping more snow and ice on a region already buried and partially shut down.
Interstate 84, reopened just Saturday afternoon, was shut down again for all traffic early Sunday morning because of a snow slide. The stretch of interstate east of Portland in the Columbia River gorge is the same area that was hit hardest by the first storm, according to Bob Severson of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
"It's been a real mess up there," Severson said. "They've just been getting really pounded and they're getting some freezing rain. It's real treacherous and hazardous driving up there."
A section of Interstate 90 through the Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountain range was closed again Sunday morning because of drifting snow. It had reopened only Saturday morning after the first storm.
Many smaller highways were also unusable Sunday morning, including U.S. 12 through the White Pass in the Cascade range.
"It's still ugly," said Jesse Baker, communications supervisor for the Washington State Patrol in Seattle.
"It's still snowing and we have compact ice and snow on the roadways and we're still telling people to stay home," Baker said. "The same as it's been for the last day or two."(704K/18 sec. QuickTime movie)
In Seattle, the precipitation was all snow. Further south, in Portland, warmer temperatures made freezing rain the mainstay.
Trying to beat the storm
On Saturday, hundreds of utility crews scrambled to restore power to tens of thousands of customers before the second storm blew ashore.
Snow and freezing rain Thursday and Friday left more than 170,000 homes and businesses in the Western states without electricity, down from nearly 300,000 on Friday.
The powerful storm ruined holiday travel plans for thousands, stranding motorists on icy roads and grounding and delaying flights from San Diego to Seattle.
"If you don't have to drive, don't," said Sgt. Ken DeMello of the Washington State Police, noting roads were covered with treacherous ice. "I think people got tired of sitting at home, and we had quite a bit of traffic yesterday afternoon. That caused a lot of problems."
Utility crews raced against time Saturday to reconnect homes and repair power lines during a calm period in the weather. Repair crews from Canada were brought in to help, but snow and ice made their work slow and difficult.
In Oregon, about 29,000 Portland General Electric Co. customers remained without electricity following Thursday's ice storm. "It's a mess out there," Portland General Electric spokeswoman Vickie Rocker said.
She said 200 crews would work through the weekend to restore power to homes but warned the changing weather could hamper their efforts.
California braces for onslaught
Severe winds and rain were forecast for central and northern California. Emergency personnel were preparing for disaster -- floods, mudslides and widespread power outages.
The storm could dump more than 10 inches (25 cm) of rain and cause major flooding in parts of northern and central California, forecasters said. Heavy rains were expected in the Santa Cruz Mountains and along California's Russian River.
Correspondent Rusty Dornin and Reuters contributed to this report.
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