One dead, thousands without power after Pacific Northwest storms

PORTLAND, Ore./SEATTLE An Oregon woman was killed in her bed early Wednesday after a tree crashed through the roof of her home as storms continued to cause severe flooding, power outages and evacuations across the U.S. Pacific Northwest, authorities said.Portland has endured more than 5 inches of rain in three days, nearly as much as falls in all of December in a typical year, and Seattle exceeded its normal December rainfall tally in just 8 days, the National Weather Service said. Mountainous areas of Oregon and neighboring Washington state have seen more than a foot of rain, the service said.The record-breaking storms opened sinkholes in several major roads, caused rivers to spill over their banks and closed roads and schools for a third day in the worst-hit areas across the region.The Weather Service forecast a break from intense rain on Wednesday, but said a number of major Puget Sound area rivers had flooded their banks and it issued warnings of other floods. National Weather Service meteorologist Gerald Macke said he could not definitively say whether the parade of storms was linked to the El Nino weather pattern. "Once or twice every winter we get prolonged flooding in our region, kind of like how in Oklahoma they get tornadoes." A 60-year-old Portland woman died when a tree fell on her house, according to the city's fire department.Outside Tacoma, Washington, emergency officials rescued several people who were swept into the swollen Puyallup River overnight on Wednesday from a bankside homeless encampment, police said. In Puyallup, about 10 miles (16.09 km) from Tacoma, rescuers helped residents evacuate their homes in a flooded trailer park, police said.Puget Sound Energy, a utility that serves Seattle, reported 37,000 customers were without electricity on Wednesday morning after fierce winds and hail hit the city.All roads in and out of the rural community of Vernonia, Oregon, were closed for several hours on Wednesday due to landslides, high water and bridge erosion, fire officials said. West Oregon Electric, which serves Vernonia, said many areas of the community were without power. Storms have also left 26,000 customers without power in the Portland area, utility Portland General Electric said. Last December, harsh weather was blamed in the deaths of a homeless man camping with his son near Ashland, Oregon, as well as a passenger in a car that swerved into a tree in Portland. (Reporting by Courtney Sherwood in Portland, Oregon and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Dan Grebler)