Arctic air blows into Northwest, knocking out power, setting up chance for snow in region

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SEATTLE — Arctic air blowing into the Northwest on Tuesday knocked out power to tens of thousands of people in parts of Washington and Oregon and dropped temperatures enough for a chance of snow over the next couple of days, authorities said.

Winds from 40 to 50 mph toppled trees onto power lines and across roads.

Portland General Electric and Clark Public Utilities reported about 28,000 outages in the Portland-Vancouver area by Tuesday afternoon. The power losses were reported from Portland's western suburbs to Mount Hood.

A fallen tree disrupted Portland light-rail service, while another fell along Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks in Vancouver.

A large tree — more than 50 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter — blew across tracks near Tacoma, said Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas. Clearing the debris delayed three Amtrak passenger trains and five BNSF freight trains.

Elsewhere in western Washington, Puget Sound Energy reported more than 23,000 outages, mostly in the south King County area. The Lewis County Public Utility District said more than 5,400 homes lacked power.

Falling trees caused problems on several roadways. They blocked the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 around the noon in Easton, the Washington State Patrol said.

Trees also blocked the northbound lanes of Highway 167 in south King County and Highway 410 at Crystal Mountain at Mount Rainier, the Washington Transportation Department said.

A tree also crashed into a house in Edgewood, but no injuries were reported.

The winds mark a change from fall to winter weather, with some of the coldest temperatures since last winter.

The National Weather Service forecast a chance of snow around the region Wednesday and Thursday when a moist weather system moves in from the southwest.

In Oregon, snow is likely in the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River Valley and possible across the Portland-Vancouver area, forecasters said. And 3 to 6 inches of snow are forecast for central Oregon.

A rain-snow mix is possible in southwest Washington, south of Puget Sound, and the first significant lowland snow is possible in eastern Washington.

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