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Deaths, flooding as storm hit Oregon and Washington state

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A winter storm that brought powerful wind gusts to Oregon on Tuesday caused at least two fatal car accidents that left four people dead, preliminary police investigations have found.

Three people were killed, including a 4-year-old girl, when severe weather caused a large tree to fall on their pickup truck as they were driving on U.S. 26 about 15 miles east of the coastline, Oregon State Police said in a news release. The passengers were deceased when first responders arrived at the scene.

Further east on U.S. 26 on Mount Hood, a motorist was killed when a large tree fell on the cab of the commercial truck he was driving because of snow and strong winds, causing it to lose control and leave the highway, the state police said. The 53-year-old driver, who was alone in the truck, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another person died when a tree fell and struck a pickup they were riding in as a passenger on Interstate 84 near Cascade Locks in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon State Police said. The driver was injured and transported to a hospital. The weather appears to have contributed to the tree falling, said OSP spokesperson Kyle Kennedy.

Strong winds felled trees and and knocked out power lines across much of the western half of the state on Tuesday, cutting power for more than 100,000 people at certain points. Wind gusts reached 86 mph near Cape Perpetua on the central coast and 107 mph near the iconic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, said Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s Portland office.

Utility companies have progressively restored power, but more than 50,000 people were still affected by outages as of noon Wednesday, according to online tracker PowerOutage.

Portland General Electric and Pacific Power — among the utilities reporting the highest number of outages — both said they had hundreds of service crew members, including from out of state, working to assess and repair damage.

Oregon led the country as the state with the highest number of reported power outages on Tuesday, with more than 160,000 customers affected, according to PowerOutage.

Tuesday’s storm system also brought massive waves, high tides and flooding to the region.

Wave heights reached 30 feet along the Oregon coast, the National Weather Service said.

Storm surges flooded parts of Washington state, including Seattle, where some residents of the South Park neighborhood kayaked through the streets and used buckets clear their homes of water.

A record high tide of 18.4 feet (5.61 meters) submerged parts of the state capital of Olympia and washed jellyfish over the shoreline onto the city’s streets, officials said.

A coastal flood warning will remain in effect for Seattle and the southern Puget Sound until 1 p.m. Wednesday.