PORTLAND, Ore. — Monday was the wettest calendar day in recorded history in Portland, and the rain was expected to stick around for days.
KGW-TV meteorologist Matt Zaffino said nearly 2.7 inches of rain on Monday tied a record for one day, from 12:01 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. The previous record was set on Nov. 19, 1996. More rain was forecast for Monday night, and Zaffino said the record would be sure to break.
The storm that caused floods, landslides, road closures and even a sinkhole was expected to bring its next wave of heavy rain Tuesday, possibly during the evening commute.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation said people should expect delays in every mode of transportation in the metro area for the next several days.
Authorities were offering sandbags to any area residents who needed them.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera called the weather an “extraordinary event that had extraordinary impacts.”
Rivera said 5.61 inches of rain had fallen so far this month, with three inches falling within a 12-hour period.
The December average for rainfall in the metro area is 5.49 inches.
KGW meteorologist Rod Hill said said the worst of the storm will likely happen on Tuesday night and continue into Thursday.
“We’ll see several shots of long, steady, heavy rain on Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly even Thursday,” Hill said.
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for most of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington through Wednesday afternoon. The watch includes the greater Portland metro area, north and central Oregon coast, the central Willamette Valley, the central Columbia River Gorge, the north and central Coast Range, and the northern Oregon Cascades and Cascade foothills.
“Alerts for wind, flooding and mudslides will be common through the days of Wednesday and Thursday,” Hill added.
The pouring rain triggered landslides, forced people to abandon their cars and caused widespread flooding on Monday. Johnson Creek flooded in Portland and Milwaukie, sending floodwaters over bridges and into roads.
On Monday morning, Portland’s combined sewer system overflowed into the Willamette River and the Columbia Slough.The Bureau of Environmental Services urged people to avoid coming into contact with waterways and floodwaters.
“It’s really important that folks minimize their contact with this water,” a BEC spokeswoman said at a press conference. “It’s extremely polluted. There are oil cans, gas cans, dog poop, industrial pollution — who knows what else. It’s really dirty.”
Drivers were stranded in many areas. Along Northwest 13th Street and Quimby Street in Portland, cars were abandoned in rising water.
In Lake Oswego, three drivers were stuck in high water along Fielding Road. The people inside the vehicles had to be rescued, but no one was hurt.
In Gresham, a sinkhole near Mount Hood Community College took out two lanes on Southeast Kane Road. The college will be closed through Tuesday night.