Wicked weather hits
H&N photos by Gary Thain
High water Friday closed Main Street to
east and westbound traffic between Spring
Street and Michigan Avenue.
December 31, 2005 by DYLAN
DARLING H&N Staff Writer
Klamath County officials are telling people who
live near the banks of the Sprague and Williamson
rivers to get ready to head for high ground.
The warning came Friday as
rising water around Southern Oregon and Northern
California covered roadways, causing delays and
detours for motorists. Heavy rains and high winds
lashed both sides of the border and triggered a
landslide that closed both lanes of Interstate 5
over the Siskiyou Summit.
I-5 was closed between Hilt, Calif., and Ashland,
first due to flash flooding, and then due to a
series of landslides, said Oregon Department of
Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming. The
roadblock caused streams of travelers to pass
through Klamath County on highways 58, 97 and 140.
U.S. Highway 101 was closed by fallen trees and
mud south of Crescent City, Calif.
Northbound lanes of I-5 reopened Friday evening,
but southbound lanes were expected to be closed
until dawn today.
As of Friday night, the National Weather Service
predicted rain through the weekend and a chance of
rain or snow through next week. At Kingsley Field,
1.3 inches of rain fell Friday, and residents
throughout the Klamath area battled flooded
basements, property and roads.
“Apparently it is just going to rain, rain, rain
for the next several days - that's not good,” said
Bill Thompson, Klamath County emergency manager.
“The warning signs are out there.”
The National Weather Service issued a flood
warning Friday for the Sprague River near Beatty,
and flood warnings also were issued for the
Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua and other rivers around
Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Rivers were expected to
crest between Friday night and today as the
downpour eased, but a new storm system is expected
The Sprague River was expected to swell past
flood stage tonight, and the high water should
then move its way down river and into the
Williamson in the next three days.
On Friday, emergency officials said that people
who live near the Sprague and Williamson rivers
should make evacuation plans if they live where
water could threaten their homes. They also should
stop by the fire station in downtown Chiloquin to
tell officials where they plan to go in case of a
Officials planned to meet at 1 p.m. today to
determine if an incident command post needs to be
Sprague River resident
Alice Carson watched the water closely Friday, as
did the Klamath County sheriff's deputies who have
been patrolling the valley.
Although Carson's home and market are safe from
flood waters, her campground on the banks of the
Sprague about halfway between Sprague River and
Chiloquin could be submerged.
“We have all the makings of a flood,” said
Carson, who has lived on the river for 30 years.
The Sprague and Williamson flooded most recently
in the winter of 1996-97, which county officials
say was the worse flooding since both topped their
banks in 1964. Carson said high waters also
damaged homes on the Sprague in 1982.
While county officials
focused flood planning efforts on the Sprague and
Williamson, Friday's pounding rain caused problems
around the county in other spots.
One was in Marjorie Walker's front yard on North
Poe Valley Road.
A deluge of water cascaded
down the hillside behind her home, filling the
pasture in front of it and covering the roadway.
“Out the back of my house looks like Niagara
Falls,” she said.
Sheriff Tim Evinger said deputies and road work
crews had three pages listing problems, including
a power pole leaning dangerously low on Lakeshore
Drive, high water on Highway 140 and plugged
drains and culverts.
“It has now expanded the problem into town,”
In Klamath Falls, flooding closed Main Street at
the underpass near Spring Street, Owen Street at
Merit's Appliance, Adams Street, Division Street
at Shasta Way and Shasta Way at Sixth Street and
Officials were in “triage” mode, handling the
situations with the most danger first, Evinger
- Jeff Barnard of the Associated Press contributed
to this report