Updated 8:20 p.m.

Heavy rain pounded through the Portland area Saturday afternoon, snarling traffic, blocking numerous intersections, and soaking the start of Halloween trick-or-treating.

Standing water caused delays for TriMet buses and MAX lines. The Portland streetcar was down due to high water on tracks, the Portland Bureau of Transportation tweeted. Buses have been ordered. Streetcar riders were advised to use regular bus service.

There were numerous reports of flooded intersections and stalled cars on area roads and flooded basements and storm drains. Portland police were scrambling to respond to all the high water and cautioning drivers not to attempt to drive through intersections with standing water. As night fell, authorities advised that standing water could be deeper than it appeared in the dark.

Flood advisories were issued for much of western Oregon by the National Weather Service. Multnomah County, Northwestern Clackamas County, Southeastern Clark County and Southeastern Cowlitz County were under flood advisory until 8:30 p.m. Parts of Linn, Benton, Polk, Marion and Clackamas counties were under flood advisory until 11 p.m. as the storm moved through the metro area.

Both lanes of the tunnel on Southeast Powell Boulevard near Southeast 17th Avenue have been closed, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Other trouble spots included Interstate 84 near Grand Avenue and several parts of Interstate 205, ODOT reported.

Paul Kharchenko, 18, was driving westbound on Southeast Powell Boulevard about 4 p.m. when the car in front of him stopped near Southeast 17th Avenue. The cars behind him stopped and created waves that stalled his engine.

“They made waves,” Kharchenko said. “My car was like blub, blub, blub.”

The heavy rain caused Portland’s combined sewer system to overflow the Willamette River, the Bureau of Environmental Services reported. The public is advised to avoid contact with the river from the Sellwood Bridge downstream to the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers near Kelley Point Park. The bureau advised avoiding contact for 48 hours after the sewers stop overflowing.

The system carries sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipes. During heavy rainstorms, the stormwater can cause the system to overflow into the river.

The railroad arms at Southwest Lower Boones Ferry Road at the Tualatin-Lake Oswego border are stuck in the down position. The weather will prevent a crew from getting to the scene for some time. Drivers are advised to use an alternate route and avoid the area.

Vancouver Public Works Operations responded to more than 50 reports of standing water and clogged storm drains. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the city reported Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard was closed between Southeast 184th and 192nd Avenues; and Southeast Village Loop Drive was closed between Southeast McGillvray Boulevard and Fernwood Drive. Standing water was causing problems on Northeast 121st Avenue between Fourth Plain Boulevard and Northeast 49th Street; and on Northeast 164th/162nd Avenue north of Southeast First Street.


Neighbors and firefighters worked to clear knee-deep water at Northeast Beech Street at Northeast 16th Avenue, a persistent trouble spot. About 10 citizens and a handful of firefighters tossed leaves onto lawns and cleared storm drains.

“We just moved here in May,” said Melissa Mercatante, 37. “It’s cold and wet but everyone is pitching in and helping.”

Mercatante looked up and saw firefighters arrive.

“But now it looks like we have some help,” she said.

The good news — if there is good news on a very wet Saturday afternoon and evening — is that the heaviest showers will move along after 6 p.m. and turn to steady rain.

Liana Brackett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said rain and showers will continue into Sunday morning. The Portland area won’t really dry out until Tuesday afternoon, she said.

KOIN (6) reported that Saturday is the wettest day since Jan. 17, when 1.80 inches of rain fell.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation said it received more than 100 calls about high water in 90 minutes.

Bryan Denson of The Oregonian contributed to this report.

— Jeff Baker




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