Tornado damages 36 homes in Battle Ground; crews working to clear highways after storms

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SEATTLE -- State transportation crews in Oregon and Washington are making progress as they work to clear highways swamped by mudslides and high water from this week's torrential rain.

Crews in Washington have opened two northbound lanes of Interstate 5 in Woodland after a landslide closed them Wednesday. The Washington State Department of Transportation hopes to have all lanes open by Sunday night.

US 2 has reopened west of Leavenworth after a 100-foot wide landslide blocked the road.

Washouts on both sides of White Pass have kept both directions of US 12 closed.

National Weather Service officials in Portland confirmed that a tornado touched down Thursday morning in the southwest Washington city of Battle Ground. They are still determining the tornado's intensity rating.

City officials said 36 homes and two commercial buildings were damaged, but there were no injuries.

Hydrologist Andy Bryant in Portland, Oregon, says the area that includes southwest Washington and northwest Oregon typically sees about one tornado a year. The tornadoes tend to be short-lived and relatively weak compared to tornadoes in other parts of the country.

The forecast for Friday and Saturday calls for more rain, and mudslide danger remains high.

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