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UPDATE: More frequent bridge lifts but Columbia River levees are not threatened by high water level.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - High water has temporarily closed the Eastbank Esplanade in Portland.Record rainfall over the past few days has water levels rising in area rivers and, coupled with the snowmelt, has officials concerned about possible flooding.

Multnomah County warned motorists to expect traffic delays this week for more frequent bridge lifts on the Willamette River. The county maintains three bridges that need to be lifted for river traffic — the Broadway, Burnside, and Hawthorne bridges. They are currently staffed around the clock due to high river levels.

There is no threat to the levees alone the Columbia River which are maintained by the Multnomah County Drainage District. Although river levels are high for this time of year, that are not close to topping the levees and are expected to recede in coming days.

Portland's Eastbank Esplanade has been closed as officials say the Willamette River has risen affecting the floating path amid a weekend of intense rains.

The closure, from north of the Morrison Bridge to south of the Steel Bridge, began Sunday, June 12, and will last until further notice about river conditions. However, officials predict the water levels will recede enough by Wednesday.

A Portland hot spot for summer, Poet's Beach along the Willamette River, has disappeared, covered by rising water levels with just a glimpse of a "no lifeguard" warning sign peeking out.

Along the Willamette River, logs and wood debris have started to accumulate as the area sees record rainfall and snowmelt going into summer.

"This late-spring, early-summer, wet, cold weather is abnormal and the rivers are high and muddy," said Dave Slover, owner of Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe.

As the Rose Festival Fleet Week wraps up, the harbormaster is keeping an eye on the Willamette River levels. So far, it does not appear the river has reached levels to impact the ships' ability to leave.

Visitors and pedestrians will be kept from being on the Esplanade from around Southeast Ash Street to near Everett Street.

The Esplanade is a multiuse pathway along the Willamette River, with a 1,200-foot wooden deck over the water beneath the Burnside Bridge.

An atmospheric river that dumped tons of water on the metro area left waterways swollen and some rivers {obj:63368:flooding in both Oregon and Southwest Washington} this weekend.

Flood watches are in effect for the Columbia River at two locations:

• At Vancouver: 3 a.m June 12 through 11 a.m. June 15

• At Longview: 3 a.m June 13 through 6 a.m. June 14

In Washougal, rising water in the Columbia River led to parts of Capt. William Clark Park flooding.

As people head outdoors for summer fun, local kayaking and boating experts suggest to stick to calmer lakes vs. rising rivers for the time being and always wear a lifejacket.

"As long as people have those on, regardless of the weather conditions, that keeps everybody up at the surface and floating and able to make it to shore or back to their boat," Slover said.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.


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