Tree topples into home, killing woman as heavy rains drench Oregon, Washington

A large fir tree crashed into a Portland home early Wednesday, killing a 60-year-old woman as the Pacific Northwest was soaked by another night of heavy rain.

The tree, roughly 30 inches in diameter, sheared the front corner of the house from the back while the woman was in bed at 3:30 a.m. Lt. Rich Tyler of the Portland Fire Bureau said the woman's brother and husband escaped without injury.

"The rooms they were in were not affected by the tree at all, but they had to get by the tree to get out," Tyler said.

More than 5 inches of rain have fallen on Portland since Sunday, and strong winds have uprooted trees from the saturated ground. At Sea-Tac Airport, where the official weather for Seattle is recorded, the weather service says 2.13 inches of rain fell on Tuesday. That beats the previous Dec. 8 record of 1.61 inches

Puget Sound Energy in Washington reported more than 70,000 power outages early Wednesday. Portland General Electric said crews are trying to restore power to 26,000 customers. Several Washington state school districts are either closed or getting late starts Wednesday.

The National Weather Service says wind and rain are expected to slow Wednesday, but snow may continue to fall in the mountains.

The rain that has already drenched the region pushed many creeks and rivers to flood stage as residents in some communities stacked sandbags.

Andy Haner, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle, said every major river in western Washington is either already at or will rise to at least a minor flood stage over the next few days.

"This is a pretty significant flood event," he said, due to what the service is calling a parade of storms.

Major flooding was predicted for the Snoqualmie, Snohomish and Skykomish rivers north of Seattle, Haner said.

Firefighters in the Portland suburb of Forest Grove safely got a motorist into a boat early Wednesday after she was trapped by a flood.

The American Red Cross has provided assistance to some flood victims and opened shelters in Oregon and Washington.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said landslides and high water closed parts of many state highways Wednesday.

Officials were also trying to figure out how to repair massive sinkholes that opened up on Monday — one in front of Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, a Portland suburb, and another on Highway 22 in Yamhill County. The college remained closed on Tuesday.

Officials advised residents to avoid traveling and to avoid driving through high water and to watch for flash floods, mudslides and falling trees.