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Storm thrashes coast with high winds, power outages

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High tide and large storm waves attract visitors to Lone Ranch Beach north of Brookings on Thursday.
 

By this morning, the storm clouds have likely parted, the sun is shining and Curry County residents are breathing a sign of relief that the storm didn’t turn out as badly as originally forecast.

“Your area kind of dodged a bullet. It’s a bit of a mystery as to why the winds were not a high at the coast as they were inland,” said National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Ryan Sandler.

The cities of Medford and Ashland reported major wind damage and up to 16,000 people without power at the height of the storm early Thursday morning. Winds gusts of up to 80 mph were reported in Ashland. Grants Pass, which is nestled against the mountains, escaped major damage, Sandler said. 

For reasons yet to be determined, Sandler said Curry County escaped the brunt of the wind — the NWS had initially forecast winds of 50 to 60 mphs with gusts of more than 100 mph along the headlands.

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Second storm front blows through

With gusts of up to 48 mph, the second of two storm fronts blew through Curry County this morning, dousing power to more than 800 homes, most of those in Brookings and Port Orford.

Other early damage reports include the scoreboard at Brookings-Harbor High and a community icon: the osprey nest over the Chetco River Bridge. Trees were blown over in various locations. Wind speeds at the bridge in Port Orford were clocked at 78 mph — before the worst of the storm hit 22 hours later.

Both Port Orford and Bandon schools delayed Thursday's classes by two hours.

Winds at the Crescent City airport have been as high as 68 mph this morning, with gusts over 40 mph repeatedly since 4 a.m. and continuing at 8:30 a.m. In Brookings, just under 3 inches of rain has fallen since Tuesday, with a half-inch of that falling since midnight Thursday morning. 

Forecasts have warned of severe weather for days, and most of the warnings for heavy rains, winds, flooding, and high surf continue through Friday.

Gusts in the first front were clocked at 41 mph during lunchtime Wednesday. The peak gust about 4:30 a.m. was 48 at the Pilot's weather station in downtown Brookings. 


Curry County braces for storm impact

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U.S.U.S. Coast Guard crew members this morning place sandbags in front of a Fely's Cafe at the Port of Brookings Harbor in anticipation of high wind and surf.

After a surprisingly calm night along the Curry County coastline, the south wind was picking up and heavy rain was falling this morning as a powerful storm began to envelop the region.

At the Port of Brookings Harbor, a crew of U.S. Coast Guardsmen were placing sandbags around a building near the beach that houses Fely’s Cafe and a laundromat. It was a precaution should the combination of high tide, huge waves and wind gusts this afternoon swamp the oceanfront parking lot at Sporthaven Beach.

Meanwhile, port employees were busy checking culverts and drainage to make sure they were clear of debris. County workers were doing likewise throughout the Harbor area and the rest of the unincorporated area.

The National Weather Service has issued a special detailed weather briefing that can be seen by clicking here.

 

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Storm bears down on coast

A storm with heavy rain, high wind and huge surf was expected to pummel the Curry County coast today through Thursday, bringing with it the threat of flooding, downed trees and power outages.

The first wave of the storm was expected to arrive early this morning (Dec. 10) and continue through Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

On Monday, NWS officials urged residents to clear leaves from drains and gutters, secure loose outside objects, and have supplies on hand in case of an extended power outage.

“These storms have the potential to do some serious wind damage,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Ryan Sandler. “There’s definitely going to be significant rain, up to 5 inches in 36 hours, but it’s the wind that is the biggest concern.”

The brunt of the storm was expected to arrive Thursday, bringing more rain, high surf and winds of 50 to 70 mph along the coast.

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SMART volunteers work closely with young students

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SMART volunteer Virginia Frizzle, left, reads with a first grade student at Kalmiopsis Elementary School.

Helping students learn to read has helped Brookings Heidi Heikkila recover a skill she lost 14 years ago.

“I was hit by a car,” she remembers. “I was in a coma for one month. I had to learn how to read again, and how to write,” she said. 

Today, Heikkila is a volunteer for the Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) program, a statewide initiative to help students get excited about reading.

Volunteers come in and read with students three days a week. The Kalmiopsis Elementary School SMART program provides reading partners for kindergartners and first graders.

The statewide program is set up to serve students from kindergarten to grade three. 

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Quake zone has gone eerily quiet

(AP) — The offshore fault zone expected to generate the next “big one” earthquake along the Oregon Coast has gone silent.

Researchers are baffled by the lack of activity along the Cascadia fault, which lies between 40 and 80 miles offshore and stretches from Northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino in California.

Experts believe the lack of activity could point to a build up of pressure — which could lead to a massive quake. 

Earthquake scientists have listening posts along the coast from Vancouver Island to Northern California. But those onshore seismometers have detected few signs of the grinding and slipping one would expect to see as one tectonic plate dives beneath another, with the exception of the junctions on the north and south ends of what is formally known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. 

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Extension of Brookings bike path delayed

The extension of the bike path north of Brookings has been delayed six months, due to unexpected soil conditions found during pile driving and now, the weather.

The project, which was supposed to have been done by mid-November, will begin anew in April with plans for completion by the end of May, said ODOT Public Affairs Official Dan Latham.

The project involves extending the paved bike path from Harris Beach State Park north to Dawson Road with the hope of eventually connecting it to Southwestern Oregon Community College about 3.5 miles north of town.

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Curry County braces for major winter storm

A storm with heavy rain, high wind and huge surf was expected to pummel the Curry County coast starting late tonigh through Thursday, bringing with it the threat of flooding downed trees and power outages.

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Brookings man facing domestic assault charges

Brookings resident William Dale Scobee Jr. was arrested Saturday night after a domestic dispute that brought authorities to a home on Alder Ridge Road off Carpenterville Road.

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GMO measure recount underway

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County election workers Pam Hunter, left, and Sandy Sorensen recount ballots by hand on Thursday.

Four Curry County election officials spent the bulk of their day Thursday retabulating all the ballots cast in the county’s November General Election to verify the results of state Ballot Measure 92.

That measure would have required manufacturers to label food that is genetically modified; the question failed statewide by 812 votes out of 1.5 million cast.

And that close vote — within one-fifth of 1 percent — triggered a requirement to recount the ballots. Officials throughout the state have until Dec. 12 to finish recounting, but most expect to be done well before then. 

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