Two dead, thousands without power after US Pacific Northwest storms

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Tree Falls on Roof in Portland, Oregon, 1 Woman Killed


PORTLAND, Ore./SEATTLE (Reuters) - Drenching storms triggered mudslides and flooding in the Pacific northwest on Wednesday, knocking out power to thousands of people and leaving two women dead in Oregon, authorities and local media reported.

Portland has endured more than 5 inches of rain in three days, nearly as much as all of December in a typical year, and Seattle exceeded its normal December rainfall tally in just 8 days, the National Weather Service said.

The service said mountainous areas of Oregon and neighboring Washington state, where Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, have received more than a foot of rain.

The record-breaking storms opened sinkholes in several major roads, caused rivers to spill over their banks and closed roads and schools for a third day in the worst-hit areas across the region.

See photos of the storm damage:

16 PHOTOS
U.S. Pacific Northwest storms, December
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Two dead, thousands without power after US Pacific Northwest storms
A large fir tree fell on a house overnight and killed an elderly woman in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Heavy rain and wind has caused at least one death in the region. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Mike Ewing, co-owner of the Riverview RV Park, wades through floodwaters near a partially submerged car Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Puyallup, Wash., after he hooked up a pump to get rid of water that flooded RV's and other vehicles Wednesday morning. The National Weather Service says wind and rain are expected to slow Wednesday, but snow may continue to fall in the mountains. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Columbia County Sheriff drives through a low point on the road while others line up to go through, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Portland, Or. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest for another night, causing mudslides and flooding roads, leaving an Oregon woman dead after a tree fell onto her house and sweeping seven people into a Washington river, where they were rescued. (Kristyna Wentz-Graff/The Oregonian via AP)
Skykomish River floodwaters surround a house outside of Monroe, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest early Wednesday, causing mudslides and flooding roads. (Genna Martin/seattlepi.com via AP)
Maintenance personnel look at a large sinkhole on Kane Drive in Gresham, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest early Wednesday, causing mudslides and flooding roads. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Fire and maintenance personnel look at a large sinkhole on Kane Drive in Gresham, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest early Wednesday, causing mudslides and flooding roads. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Bryce Carlson, 5, of Carnation, Wash., checks out the waterline on flooded NE 124th Street outside of Duvall, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest early Wednesday, causing mudslides and flooding roads. (Genna Martin/seattlepi.com via AP) 
A truck is submerged floodwaters from the Snoqualmie River off of Tolt Hill Road in Carnation, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest early Wednesday, causing mudslides and flooding roads. (Genna Martin/seattlepi.com via AP) 
A worker assesses damage from a large fir tree that fell on a house overnight and killed an elderly woman in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Heavy rain and wind has caused at least one death in the region. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Branches cover a car from a large fir tree that fell on a house overnight and killed a 60-year-old woman in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. as the Pacific Northwest was soaked by another night of heavy rain. More than 5 inches of rain have fallen on Portland since Sunday, and strong winds have uprooted trees from the saturated ground. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
A van drives down a flooded portion of Highway 203 outside Carnation, Wash. Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest early Wednesday, causing mudslides and flooding roads. (Genna Martin(/seattlepi.com via AP)
Garett Ricks, a manager of the Riverview RV Park, carries a basket as he wades through floodwaters, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, after he helped hook up a pump to get rid of water that flooded RV's and other vehicles Wednesday morning in Puyallup, Wash. The National Weather Service says wind and rain are expected to slow Wednesday, but snow may continue to fall in the mountains. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Johnson Creek swells near flood stage in Portland, Ore., as the Pacific Northwest was soaked by another night of heavy rain, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. The Oregon Department of Transportation says landslides and high water have closed parts of many state highways. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Workers survey damage from a large fir tree that fell on a house overnight and killed a 60-year-old woman in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. as the Pacific Northwest was soaked by another night of heavy rain. More than 5 inches of rain have fallen on Portland since Sunday, and strong winds have uprooted trees from the saturated ground. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Drivers drive through high water in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, as the Pacific Northwest was soaked by another night of heavy rain. The rain that has already drenched the region pushed many creeks and rivers to flood stage as residents in some communities stacked sandbags. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
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The Weather Service forecast said a number of major Puget Sound area rivers had overflowed, and it issued warnings of other floods.

National Weather Service meteorologist Gerald Macke said he could not definitively say whether the parade of storms was linked to the El Nino weather pattern. "Once or twice every winter we get prolonged flooding in our region, kind of like how in Oklahoma they get tornadoes."

A 60-year-old Portland woman died when a tree fell on her house, according to the city's fire department.

Another woman drowned on Wednesday when her car became submerged in standing high water in Clatskanie, in the state's north, the Oregonian reported.

In Clackamas County, firefighters waded through hip-deep water and used rafts to help rescue people trapped in their homes, authorities said.

Outside Tacoma, Washington, emergency officials rescued several people who were swept into the swollen Puyallup River overnight on Wednesday from a bankside homeless encampment, police said.

Washington transportation officials said interstate highway travel between Portland and Seattle would be closed until at least Thursday morning, as engineers needed to evaluate an unstable hillside after boulders fell onto the freeway north of Portland.

Puget Sound Energy, a utility that serves Seattle, reported 37,000 customers were without electricity after fierce winds and hail hit the city.

Storms have also left 26,000 customers without power in the Portland area, utility Portland General Electric said.

Last December, harsh weather was blamed in the deaths of a homeless man camping with his son near Ashland, Oregon, as well as a passenger in a car that swerved into a tree in Portland.

RELATED: See the worst natural disasters in U.S. history

21 PHOTOS
Worst U.S. natural disasters
See Gallery
Two dead, thousands without power after US Pacific Northwest storms
This aerial photo shows a collapsed house along the central Jersey Shore coast on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. New Jersey got the brunt of Sandy, which made landfall in the state and killed six people. More than 2 million customers were without power as of Wednesday afternoon, down from a peak of 2.7 million. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
A mailbox with a lighthouse design sits on the porch of a burned out home in the Breezy Point section of Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. More than 50 homes were lost in a fire that swept through the oceanside community during Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
This aerial photo shows the Breezy Point neighborhood, in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, where more than 50 homes were burned to the ground Monday night as a result of superstorm Sandy. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this historical photo from May 31, 1889, survivors stand by homes destroyed when the South Fork Dam collapsed in Johnstown, Pa. As officials prepare to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the enormous Johnstown Flood of 1889 that killed 2,209 people, new research has helped explain why the deluge was so deadly. (AP Photo)
People stand atop houses among ruins after flooding in Johnstown, Pa., May 30, 1889. (AP Photo)
This NOAA satellite image taken on Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, at 2:02 p.m EDT, shows Hurricane Katrina, now a Category 2 storm. (AP Photo/NOAA)
Arnold James tries to keep his feet as a strong gust nearly blows him over as he tries to make his way on foot to the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Monday, Aug. 29, 2005. The roof on James's home blew off, forcing him to seek shelter at the Superdome. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
An SUV is seen crushed by bricks after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Monday Morning, Aug. 29, 2005. Katrina plowed into the Gulf Coast at daybreak Monday with shrieking, 145-mph winds and blinding rain, submerging entire neighborhoods up to the rooflines in New Orleans, hurling boats onto land and sending water pouring into Mississippi's strip of beachfront casinos. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Homes remain surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
People walk through the rubble following an earthquake in San Francisco on April 18, 1906. On April 17, 1906, San Francisco was cosmopolitan enough to host Enrico Caruso in "Carmen" and so financially flushed it ranked fourth among American cities in raising money to help victims of a volcano in Italy. A day later, San Francisco was pleading for help itself after a giant earthquake struck along the San Andreas Fault. (AP Photo)
People on Sacramento Street watch smoke rise from fires after a severe earthquake in San Francisco, Calif., on April 18, 1906. (AP Photo/Arnold Genthe)
This April 18, 1906 file picture shows damaged houses leaning at an angle on Howard Street near 17th Street in San Francisco following a powerful earthquake. Dozens gathered early Monday morning, April 18, 2011 to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Great 1906 Earthquake. There are only three known survivors left of the devastating quake and ensuing fire that killed thousands. (AP Photo)
16th July 1937: Early morning whirlwinds rising from finely tilled, eroded dusty soil in Walla Walla County, Washington. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In this April 15, 1935 file photo, a peaceful little ranch in Boise City, Oklahoma where the top soil was being dried and blown away, is about to be engulfed in a gigantic dust cloud in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Before becoming a part of Oklahoma Territory, this strip known as No Man’s Land was a haven for outlaws and land squatters. Later, during the Great Depression, severe drought and blinding dust storms turned the region into the Dust Bowl. The strong survived, and today the Panhandle of Oklahoma is made up of dedicated ranchers, a growing Hispanic population and awe-inspiring views of rural life at its finest. (AP Photo, File)
Workers wheel another body to refrigerated trucks outside the Cook County morgue on Tuesday, July 18, 1995 in Chicago. By noon Tuesday, 199 people, most of them poor and elderly, had died in the heat wave. (AP Photo/Mike Fisher)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 16: A Cook County medical examiner pushes a gurney 16 July carrying the body of one of 116 people killed by heat related causes in Chicago after record hot weather hit the Midwest for several days in a row. The death toll could rise to about 300 because many of the victims were not dicovered until after the worst weather had passed and are being stored in refrigerated tractor trailers. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images)
Mark Czernick and his son Zachery, 7, pray at a mass grave site, after tossing a flower onto the coffins at the Homewood Memorial Cemetery in Homewood, Ill., Friday, Aug. 25, 1995. Buried are more than 40 of the forgotten and unclaimed victims of Chicago's July summer heat disaster. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
Cook County morgue technicians work between a row of refrigerated trucks outside the morgue on Tuesday, July 18, 1995, as the city of Chicago continues to deal with the rising death count from the recent heat wave to hit the area. At least 199 lives have been claimed by the hot humid tempratures. (AP Photo/Mike Fisher)
A large part of the city of Galveston, Texas was reduced to rubble, as shown in this September 1900 photo, after being hit by a surprise hurricane Sept. 8, 1900. More than 6,000 people were killed and 10,000 left homeless from the Great Storm which remains the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. (AP Photo)
** FILE ** In this September 1900 file photo, a large part of the city of Galveston, Texas, is reduced to rubble after being hit by a surprise hurricane Sept. 8, 1900. More than 6,000 people were killed and 10,000 left homeless from the storm, the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Hurricane Ike's eye was forecast to strike somewhere near Galveston late Friday, Sept. 12, 2008, or early Saturday, then head inland for Houston. (AP Photo/File)
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