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Record cold hits after big snowfall; schools resume classes


Central Oregonians awoke to bitterly cold temperatures — well below zero in many places — but no new snowfall Thursday, allowing the dig-out from a major snowstorm to continue and most schools to resume normal schedules, although there were some delays and other cancellations.

Redmond was among schools returning to regular schedule, and had this message for parents: “Although our crews, the city of Redmond, and (Deschutes) County have worked around the clock clearing roads, we realize many outlying roads may still not be clear. If you feel that current weather conditions are unsafe for travel, the District respects your decision to bring your student(s) in later or keep them home for the day.”

Culver school buses were on snow routes, High Desert Christian Academy in Prineville was on a two-hour delay, NeighborImpact Head Start classes were canceled in all Deschutes and Crook County locations, REACH in Redmond had no AM programs and High Desert Montessori canceled its “before care” program but was on regular schedule.

And word came Thursday evening that Klamath County schools, including Gilchrist, will be on a one-hour delay Friday morning.

The National Weather Service said Jan. 5 low-temperature records fell in three places: Redmond dropped to -14 (snapping the previous record of -11 set in 1974) and Sisters to -5 (a degree colder than Jan. 5, 1958), while Pelton Dam’s reading of -6 was five degrees more frigid than the -1 seen in 1979. (Two other Eastern Oregon cities, Condon and La Grande, also had record lows of -5 and -9, respectively).

Elsewhere in Central Oregon, Madras Airport plunged to -17 degrees before sunrise Thursday, while Prineville Airport fell to -13 and Bend Airport east of the city dropped to 5 degrees Wednesday evening, “warming”: to 7 degrees, where it held overnight.

Wednesday’s impressive snowfall totals from National Weather Service data and storm-spotters included 20 inches since Tuesday afternoon south of Bend, 10-13 inches of new snow near Prineville (for a 20- to 25-inch total) and 25 inches in 48 hours east of Bend. In Madras, a foot of snow fell in 24 hours, while there were 18 inches on the ground in Tumalo.

All that snow also poses a threat of damage, as well; Linda Stephenson of L & S Gardens, on Huntington Road in La Pine, said they lost two large greenhouses, which “never happened before in 28 years of business.” She said furnaces and fans all were taken down with the weight, and two other businesses lost a greenhouses and hay-feed storage structure as well.

“All of the damage had bent steel hoops and purlins (beams) — what a mess,” she told NewsChannel 21.

The recovery began after a snowy this week’s snowy onslaught hit its peak in bitterly cold, windy fashion Wednesday, closing schools and state government offices and making travel troublesome if not outright dangerous.

All area school districts were closed, as were all state agencies’ offices, including courts.

Some cancellations were for future days: the American Legion Ray Johnson Post 44 in Redmond bingo for Friday and Sunday, for example,

The Council on Aging of Central Oregon was opening two hours late.

NeighborImpact said its Energy Assistance and HomeSource will not offer services in Prineville, Madras and La Pine on Thursday, due to inability to get staff there. The Redmond and Bend main offices will be open for services 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The agency’s Bend and Redmond offices delayed opening Thursday until 10:30 a.m.

Mosaic Medical reported clinic closures in Redmond and Madras, as well as the mobile community clinic, all school-based health centers and Harriman Health care.

Other Mosaic Medical clinics are operating on modified schedules: Complex Care (Internal Medicine and Bridges Health) in Bend were opening around 1 p.m. and closing early (still to be determined), East Bend and Prineville opened at 10 a.m. and will be closing early (still to be determined).

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An NWS weather spotter northwest of Terrebonne in Jefferson County reported a foot of new snow overnight and three-foot snow drifts early Wednesday. One southeast of Bend reported eight new inches and also had three-foot snow drifts as snow, heavy at times, continued to fall.

Underscoring the danger: ODOT reported around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday an avalanche was blocking at least some lanes of U.S. Highway 20, two miles west of Santiam Pass.

ODOT’s update six hours later said an avalanche in that area had the highway closed, but crews hoped to have one lane open soon. “Strong winds that are blowing and drifting snow are causing very difficult and deteriorating driving conditions going over the pass,” the agency said. “Motorists should avoid traveling over the pass or use an alternate route.”

By 11:15 a.m., ODOT reported Highway 20 had reopened, but said the strong winds and blowing and drifting snow were still making for treacherous travel, and advised avoiding the route.

But the main alternate route was not faring much better. Highway 26 over Mt. Hood remained open, but ODOT warned of deteriorated driving, blizzard conditions, low visibility and downed trees and urged travelers to avoid that highway, too, if possible.

Follow traffic updates at our ODOT TripCheck page. Several flights out of Redmond Airport Wednesday morning also were canceled and more flights delayed Thursday morning; get updates at their flight status page.

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