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Snow (Again) Piles High — But Then, Blue Skies


Many Central Oregonians had more shoveling out to do Thursday, but most of them got to do it under blue skies as the latest in a week-long string of snowstorms headed east, having dumped from a few inches to more than a foot of snow.

The biggest snowfall reported by the National Weather Service around the Higbh Desert was a whopping 13 inches in Sunriver, while a weather spotter northeast of Sisters reported a half-foot of new snow and 16 inches on the ground.

Areas west of La Pine reported nine inches, the Bend area had about three inches and Prineville and Redmond residents had less than an inch in places.

But it was another morning of snowy, slick streets and more widespread school delays, as the Bend-La Pine and Redmond districts delayed classes for two hours, as did COCC and OSU-Cascades.

But by mid-morning, the clouds had moved east and it was blue-sky sunny over most of the area, though it took a while for snow-packed streets to thaw, again resulting in more crashes.

Mt. Bachelor reported 13 inches of “dry, cold, fluffy powder” overnight and 18 inches in 24 hours for a 138-inch base at West Village. Hoodoo also has gotten about 2 feet of snow in the past couple of days.

But “the wintry weather has come to an end,” said NewsChannel 21 Meteorologist Ben Burkel, “and we’re going to start transitioning to a very pleasant weather pattern through this weekend.”

He said to expect partly cloudy skies through Friday morning, with more clouds later Friday as a warm front enters the area. Another cold night of teens and 20s means more chances of icy spots on the roads, before warming begins, to the 40s Friday and 50s over the weekend, as our yo-yo winter continues.

Snow late Wednesday afternoon — then temperatures dropping to right around freezing as the sun set — triggered a new rash of crashes around the Bend area Wednesday evening, at least four during the peak commute hour..

The crashes that began around 5:30 p.m. included a two-car collision on Highway 97 south of the High Desert Museum, one on the southbound Bend Parkway on-ramp at Reed Market Road. another on Third Street at Brosterhous Road and a fourth on Highway 20 just west of 15th Street. There were no reports of serious injuries, but traffic was blocked on the streets at various times.

For much of Wednesday night, it was very slow going on Highway 97 south of Bend, at the traditional trouble spot of Lava Butte, as semis slipped, slid and pulled off to chain up. Drivers reported being stuck in place for a half-hour or more, and around 10 p.m., one dispatcher said southbound 97 was at a “standstill.”

Highway 97 near Chemult reopened early Wednesday after an hours-long closure due to crashes, but Highway 26 near Warm Springs closed for an hour-plus Wednesday morning due to a semi crash as a winter storm swept into the area, causing more slide-offs and crashes.

Highway 26 was closed around 6:30 a.m. and reopened by about 8 a.m., ODOT reported.

“Motorists are urged to drive with caution due to extreme winter driving conditions across Central Oregon, including Highway 97 from Redmond to Bend,” ODOT’s 6:30 a.m. advisory stated.

Despite widespread snow, no amounts were significant enough before sunrise to prompt school closures or delays. However, more crashes occurred, including an injury crash before 8 a.m. on Highway 97 near Deschutes Junction, between Bend and Redmond. Temperatures dropped into the teens Wednesday morning and winds also kicked up, gusting to 30 mph or higher

Cascades East Transit Bend routes went on hourly, snow schedules Wednesday morning.

Mt. Bachelor reported nine new inches of snowfall, for a 128-inch base at West Village,l with “moderate winds” Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning from 4 p.m. Tuesday to 10 p.m. Wednesday, warning of heavy snow that is expected to leave another 6-12 inches piled up across the High Desert, on top of what remains from two snowstorms in recent days.

And indeed, snowfall began to accumulate Tuesday night, coating roads. Around 10 p.m., ODOT reported Highway 97 was shut in the area of milepost 197, north of Chemult, due to jackknifed trucks and “snow-related crashes.”

Motorists were urged to avoid the area, as no detours were available.

“Southbound I-5 is not an option for transit to California as it is closed due to extreme weather conditions as well,” ODOT advised late Tuesday night. “Motorists, including trucks, are advised to delay travel until all blockages are cleared, which is not anticipated soon.”

Forecasters said the highest accumulations east of the Cascades will occur at higher elevations, while winds to 25 mph could cause blowing and drifting snow. Once again, travelers were warned to be ready for slick streets.

ODOT also issued a weather advisory Tuesday afternoon, warning Central Oregon motorists and residents of the big storm moving in.

“ODOT is being advised by the National Weather Service that several inches of snow plus high winds may lead to near-whiteout, or actual whiteout conditions over the Cascade Mountains, along US97 especially near the Klamath County/Deschutes County line, and along OR31 near Summer Lake,” the advisory said.

Accumulation of snow for the Central Oregon area is expected in the 3 ? 5 inch range and significant wind speeds are predicted, with gusts near Summer Lake predicted to be a high as 75 mph.

Snowfall accumulation in the Cascades is expected to be significantly higher, with a greater probability of whiteout conditions.

The most severe elements of the storm system are expected to push through the Central Oregon area by Wednesday morning.

The cold, clear break between storms sent temperatures plummeting, as predicted. Redmond Airport, which only reached 29 degrees Monday, plunged to 11 degrees early Tuesday while Bend Airport dropped to 16 degrees.

In the Bend area, “look for as much as 2-6 inches of snow accumulation by morning,” said NewsChannel 21 Chief Meteorologist Bob Shaw.

It was a headache (or worse) of a Monday morning for many High Desert residents as overnight snowfall — from a few to several inches — made for icy streets that delayed Redmond schools for two hours and sent numerous vehicles slipping, sliding, flipping and crashing, at least one into a police car.

Redmond School District officials put the district’s schools on 2-hour delay Monday morning due to close to a half-foot of snow, about three times what much of Bend saw.

Redmond School District AM Kindergarten was canceled but the PM Kindergarten will run on schedule, officials said. Redmond Head Start morning classes also were canceled. The Early Bird program at the Redmond and Terrebonne Boys & Girls Clubs branches also were on a two-hour delay, following the Redmond School District?s decision.

As for transit, Cascades East Transit moved its Bend routes to snow schedules at 8 a.m., with Route 3 still serving COCC on the regular route. Route 5 was detoured to avoid the closed intersection of Neff/Purcell, causing three stops to be missed on Purcell. “We expect these routes to continue on snow schedule the rest of the day,” officials said.

Elsewhere, Community Connector routes 20 (Warm Springs-Madras), 22 (Madras-Redmond), 24 (Redmond-Bend), 26 (Redmond- Prineville), and 30 (Bend-La Pine) were experiencing delays of 20 minutes, due to road conditions.

While much of Bend had about two inches of snow Monday morning, with snow still falling until mid-morning, a southwest Redmond resident reported 4.5 inches and it was still “coming down pretty hard” before sunset — and it was close to six inches within an hour or two.

In Bend, the tricky trouble spots with sliding cars were, once again on the Eastside, the steep intersection of Neff Road and Purcell Boulevard, and on the Westside, Reed Market Road at the Bill Healy Bridge, where it climbs to Mt. Bachelor Drive.

Until sanders could make things better, Neff Road at Medical Center Drive and the Bill Healy Bridge on Reed Market Road were closed, 911 dispatchers said.

Another major road headache emerged Monday morning in northwest Bend, as Archie Briggs Road was shut when cars slid and slipped and a grader and sander needed to get through. There also was lots of slipping and sliding on SW Brookswood Boulevard, and a patrol car was hit at Brookswood and Powers Road.

A multi-car, head-on crash was reported just before noon on Highway 97 near Deschutes Junction, between Bend and Redmond, blocking one lane in each direction, according to ODOT.

Four miles east of Bend, a NewsChannel 21 viewer said they were “kind of snowed in out here,” with eight inches on the ground by early morning.

And on Bend’s south side, a man who drove his sons to school was puzzled by school buses hitting the slick streets without their chains when the “roads are about as bad as they get.”

Mt. Bachelor, by contrast, had only an inch of new snow Monday morning — but 22 new inches in the past 72 hours.

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