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Storm expected to slam state today.

Byline: GARRET JAROS The Register-Guard

Batten down the hatches - there's gonna be a storm. Well, make that another storm. And this front, which is expected to move on shore this afternoon or evening, is expected to be the strongest of a series of storms that started piling up off the coast last week.

High winds and flood warnings were issued for the south coast today, weather officials said, and the South Fork of the Coquille River was expected to crest at a flood stage of 38 feet at 4 a.m. today.

The storm was moving up from California, which was battered on Saturday when rain-swollen rivers, dangerous surf, snow and even a rare coastal tornado greeted residents in the northern part of the state. The southern edge of the storm's center dropped to around Monterey, though showers stretched south to San Luis Obispo, the weather service said.

By the time it passes through Oregon sometime Monday, the storm is expected to drop one-half to three-quarters of an inch of rain on Eugene, said Paul Tolleson, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Portland.

Today's storm is expected to be a bit more severe than a front that hit Western Oregon on Saturday. Eugene residents woke up to a typical blustery day, but those on the coast bore the brunt. Oregon's beaches were battered by heavy rain and winds gusting to more than 80 mph along the north coast.

Tolleson said the stormy weather was expected to continue through Monday.

In Eugene on Saturday, winds reached 28 mph with a peak gust of 32 mph at 1:39 p.m., National Weather Service meteorologist Miles Higa said. A total of 0.59 inches of rain fell in Eugene from 4 p.m. Friday until 10 p.m. Saturday, Higa said.

That's a drop in the bucket compared to the deluge on the coast, where more than 2 inches fell Saturday morning, said Sam Bass, group duty officer at the Coast Guard's North Bend station. Gusts reached 83 mph at Cannon Beach but were milder farther south where Florence registered 59 mph gusts on Saturday afternoon.

Coast Guard telecommunications officer Larry Martin said the forecast is nothing out of the ordinary for early winter on the Oregon Coast. He said rough weather restrictions such as those issued on Saturday are typical winter orders.

"When it gets bad like this, we always have to keep people from crossing the bars because that's where the dangers are," Martin said.

Fierce winter storms are generally good news for snow-hungry ski resorts. But not this time.

All the precipitation in the valley hasn't been falling as snow in the mountains. Meteorologist Higa said that only 3 to 6 inches of snow was expected to fall in the Cascades from this series of storms.

"Up in the Cascades the snow level may actually drop down to the pass elevations late (Saturday), but it's going to go back up (today), and (tonight) go back up close to 6,000 feet," Bass said.

The temperature at the Hoodoo ski area on the Santiam Pass at 8:45 a.m. Saturday was 45 degrees, with winds blowing out of the southwest at 31 mph. The resort on Saturday reported a paltry 6-inch base.

The news wasn't any better at Willamette Pass ski area on Highway 58, where the mid-day temperature on Saturday was 40 degrees.

The resort had 6 inches of snow at peak two and 2 inches at midway.

Bass said the valley will see daytime temperatures around 50 degrees for the next couple of days.

A lack of snow in the mountains has delayed the opening of most Oregon ski resorts, which traditionally have skiers on the slopes by Thanksgiving weekend.

In November, there was 4.72 inches of rain, which is 3.72 inches below normal, Bass said.

"And it was similar in October, it was very dry both those months, he said. "And this month, through midnight Friday, you had 2.49 inches and that's still an inch below normal. But we're catching up because all of the rain has really been in the last three or four days."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Title Annotation:Weather: A front is moving up from California that should bring lots of rain and hang around through Monday.; Weather
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 15, 2002
Words:702
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