At Least 3 Dead In Northwest Storm

Kae Lamberton, left, of Auburn, Wash., tries to salvage what little she can reach through a bedroom window in her mobile home with help from a Mountainview firefighter after three trees fell on her home and vehicles, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006. Her husband, Richard Lamberton, was inside when the tree hit, but was unhurt. Firefighters declared the home unsafe to occupy due to extensive damage. (AP Photo/King County Journal, Matt Brashears) AP Photo/King County Journal

A powerful storm socked the Pacific Northwest with heavy rain and wind gusts close to 100 mph Thursday, flooding streets, toppling trees and cutting power to thousands. Three deaths were blamed on the storm.

More than 350,000 customers lost electricity in Oregon, utilities reported. Washington's largest utility, Puget Sound Energy, said tens of thousands lacked power, and Snohomish County Public Utility District, which reported as many as 60,000 customers without power, said 35,000 of them remained in the dark late Thursday. Seattle City Light reported about 15,000 outages.

The storm snarled air traffic in Seattle, Portland and Spokane causing numerous delays and cancelled flights, reports CBS News correspondent Stephan Kaufman.

A wind gust of 97 mph was recorded at Rockaway Beach, Ore. The Hood Canal Floating Bridge, which links Washington's Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, and the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, which links Seattle and its eastern suburbs, were closed because of high wind gusts.

Rain drenched Seattle's Qwest Field just before the NFL game between the Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. A power surge briefly knocked out the large video screens at both ends of the stadium.

Flooding stalled traffic in parts of Seattle, and falling trees and debris forced the closure of several highways in Oregon and Washington.

"It's just too unsafe out there to take chances with people's lives," said Bob Doran of the Oregon Department of Transportation. "The brunt of the storm hasn't yet hit, so we are expecting more trees to come down later tonight."

In Washington, a falling tree crushed the truck of a couple who stopped their pickup because of downed trees, Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said. The woman was killed and the man was cut from the wreckage and taken to Madigan Army Medical Center in critical condition.

A man who swerved his car to avoid a fallen tree died when he hit another tree, Troyer said.

A woman died in Seattle after getting trapped in her basement by rising floodwaters, authorities said.

The storm also hindered rescue workers searching for three climbers on Oregon's Mount Hood. Some searchers planned to stay on the mountain in hopes that the weather would break.

The National Weather Service said as much as 8 inches of rain was expected on the coast and 5 inches in the Cascade Range, with snow at higher elevations.

The weather service issued flood watches along many rivers in both states, and high wind warnings were in effect.

"This storm will reform over the Rockies over the weekend, so we could see a major snowstorm across the mountains of Utah, Wyoming and Colorado," warns CBS News meteorologist George Cullen.
  • Alfonso Serrano

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