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COCC, OSU-Cascades close for day as more snow falls


After a snowy, icy weekend that brought a fatal Sunday crash on Highway 97 in La Pine and two large roof collapses, more snow arrived in Central Oregon Monday, prompting school closures and delays — and a midday shutdown of all COCC and OSU-Cascades campuses and classes.

COCC and OSU-Cascades said in separate announcements that all campuses and operations would close at 1 p.m. due to “worsening weather conditions.”

Meanwhile, Bend-La Pine Schools said middle and high school students would be released 15 minutes early. Parents of elementary school bus riders were advised to “please plan for delays.” Due to impassable roads on Bus Route 5, some students will be transferred from their bus at an accessible stop to their usual stop via a Transportation Department Suburban, the district said.

Seven Peaks School also was ending the day early, at 2:15 p.m., and canceling after school and evening events and activities.

Cascades East Transit said it would have its last Bend fixed-route runs of the day at 5 p.m. Monday.

There were early cancellation announcements on Tuesday events, as well, to include: The Sisters Senior Lunch at the Sisters Community Church, the Partners in Care Bereavement Monthly Potluck, the Redmond City Council meeting and the Arnold Irrigation District’s annual board meeting, as well as the Tuesday night Science Night session at Bend Research in Tumalo.

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The weather woes continued Monday, with another reported collapse, of part of a hay barn on Tumalo Road, and more crashes, including one around 1 p.m. blocking southbound lanes Highway 97 near Sunriver. There was no immediate word of any injuries in either incident.

One person was killed in a Sunday afternoon crash at Highway 97 and Paulina Lake Road in La Pine that involved a semi and two other vehicles. ODOT and Oregon State Police Captain Bill Fugate urged would-be travelers to avoid the area — and to stay home due to the dangerous conditions.

Jefferson County and Culver school officials canceled classes for Monday due to the slick roads. as did Central Christian Academy, while Redmond Head Start canceled AM classes. Redmond and Sisters schools were on a two-hour delay, along with Powell Butte Community School, St. Thomas Academy, Sisters Christian School, Gilchrist schools and REACH in Redmond.

The Mid-Columbia Children’s Council’s Madras Head Start site was closed Monday, while the Oregon Child Development Coalition Head Start in Madras and Culver also were closed, as was The Children’s Learning Center in Madras. High Desert Montessori had no early-AM program but its classes were on regular schedule.

Redmond schools’ announcement said the added time was to “allow additional time for snow removal and travel.”

“As always,” the added, “if you feel these conditions are unsafe for travel, the district respects your decision to keep your students at home for the day.”

Earlier, when Bend-La Pine Schools were on regular schedules, Deschutes County dispatchers confirmed reports that some school buses became stuck and called for help getting unstuck on the still-snowy streets.

School district spokeswoman Julianne Repman said officials did their early-morning assessment out on the roads before deciding not to delay classes, which she said might not “have helped with today’s challenges.”

“Roads are generally good, albeit narrow in some places,” she said. “That said, some side roads that are infrequently traveled and not recently plowed gave a few bus routes a challenge today.”

All Mosaic Medical clinics and administrative offices were scheduled to open at 10 a.m. on Monday. The Bend VA Medical Clinic also is delaying its opening until 10 a.m.

Meeting or program cancellations include the Redmond Senior Center (no Meals on Wheels), Central Oregon Coalition for Access meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday and the East Cascades Audubon Society’s two Monday programs, Birding for Pre-schoolers and Fledgling Fun,

Central Oregon garbage haulers also advised Monday that residents may experience delays in garbage and recycling collection around Deschutes County But Bend Garbage & Recycling and affiliates assured that missed customers will be serviced.

Two large-structure roofs collapsed Sunday from the now-wet, heavy snow: Another large portion of the Prineville Woodgrain Millwork now-closed plant and the indoor arena at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Tumalo. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

The Redmond Airport saw more light freezing rain Sunday evening while Prineville Airport reported light snow and it was partly to mostly cloudy at the Bend and Redmond airports. All were reporting cloudy skies by 9 p.m., with temperatures of 10 to 18 degrees.

OSP said they responded to 750 incidents in 36 hours and urged people to not travel if at all possible. So did Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins, who tweeted at mid-afternoon, “I’m advising everyone to stay home, unless you have to leave because of an emergency. All roads are very bad. It is now freezing rain.”

Earlier Sunday, a resident west of La Pine reported nearly a quarter-inch of ice from freezing rain atop three feet of snow on the ground.

ODOT said late Sunday morning that chain restrictions had been lifted on Interstate 5 in the Willamette Valley but remained in place on Interstate 84 from Portland to Hood River. Further east, severe weather conditions prompted on-and-off closures of I-84 in both directions.

Around 9 a.m. Sunday, ODOT issued an advisory of freezing rain reported from the Redmond area south to Vandervert Road, south of Sunriver.

“Motorists advised to avoid travel if possible,” the notice said.

However, the Redmond, Bend, Madras and Prineville airports all reported light snow at 9 a.m., with temperatures of 10 to 12 degrees, after a Saturday in which predicted highs never materialized and readings stayed much colder (and snowier) than forecast.

The National Weather Service in Pendleton issued a winter storm warning for Central Oregon until 4 a.m. Monday as a pair of weather systems move across the area, first with 4-7 inches more snow and the second threatening a “wintry mix” of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Snow fell for much of Saturday, making for more travel woes. A Deschutes County 911 dispatcher said sheriff’s deputies and others had responded to numerous slide-offs and crashes on roads across the region, continuing into the evening hours.

Later Saturday afternoon, as temperatures didn’t rise as much as expected, the NWS revised its winter storm warning, saying 1-3 more inches of snow were possible in the Bend-Redmond area and 3-7 inches to the north near Madras. The precipitation is expected to change to the “wintry mix” of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain Sunday.

A Camp Sherman-area weather spotter reported 10 inches of new snow by Saturday evening, while a Crook County observer northeast of Prineville reported a foot of new snow.

NWS weather observers reported 6-10 inches of snow around Deschutes County in 24 hours and total snow depths of 14-28 inches. In Crook County, the two volunteer observers on the cooperative observation network reported 4-7 inches of new snow and total snow depths of 16.5 and 23.5 inches.

The Bend Public Works reporting station recorded one inch of snow in November, 21.3 inches of snow in December and 8.5 inches for January, through Friday, totaling more than 30 inches — before the weekend’s storms.

Travel remained very challenging if not dangerous over much of Oregon. Check the latest conditions at our ODOT TripCheck page.

Deschutes County sheriff’s Deputy Shadoe Majetich said Saturday they and other agencies were very busy responding to crashes and slide-offs, two of which had people go to the hospital for evaluation but none with severe injuries.

Nicole Jurgensen, Redmond Airport’s security coordinator, said there were passengers at the airport, waiting for conditions to improve — but that too much snow was falling on the runway Saturday for crews to keep it up to FAA standards. She said closing the runway will give them more time to clear the snow.

There were numerous canceled flights at Redmond Airport due to the storm hitting not just Central Oregon but other areas of the Northwest. Check on flights at RDM at their online flight status page.

Residents of the “off-the-grid” Juniper Acres rural subdivision in southern Crook County were issuing public pleas for help Saturday due to impassable roads and continued heavy snowfall.

The danger was underscored by a fire Friday that destroyed a home in the area, which is outside of any fire protection district. The Red Cross sent a disaster response team to provide assistance.

Crook County sheriff’s Sgt. Travis Jurgens said deputies were dispatched around 12:30 p.m. Friday to the reported structure fire in the 1500 block of Southeast Maple Lane. Initial reports indicated it was possible someone was still in the burning home, though it turned out not to be the case.

The double-wide mobile home was a total loss, Jurgens said. It took several hours for deputies to find the homeowner and determine they were not home at the time of the fire. The homeowner’s dog was found safe and sound. Jurgens said the homeowner told deputies there was a fire in the woodstove when they left.

Crook County Sheriff John Gautney said they also heard about numerous Facebook posts about people in Prineville Lake Acres 2 who were stranded and needed help, but had not received any direct calls for assistance from either area.

“If anyone needs immediate emergency help, they should call 911,” Gautney said, adding that with roads impassable by vehicle, deputies “will have to respond with snowmobiles” from Search and Rescue.

“We are prepared to be off grid, but generators are starting to shut down and people are running out of gas and propane,” Maya Bamer told NewsChannel 21 on Facebook.

“Not everyone has wood heating out here,” she said. “Even if they plow Cascade Way, people could be stuck because of the side roads. Trekking miles down to get a ride could be dangerous because of hypothermia, if you are fit enough to do that. Some are elderly, and there are families with young children who are stranded. I feel it is now a state of emergency because there is no end in sight to this weather.”

Carolyn Strong, who owns a 70-acre parcel and house using solar and wind power, said their “biggest concern right now is that there are dogs that were left by owners, and they are without water and heat by now.”

With at least one diabetic person needing medicine, Strong said they need to get supplies in and roads cleared for people to care for their animals.

Those interested in learning more or offering help can visit the “Juniper Acres Oregon” group page on Facebook.

Strong said later about 55 people had joined the Juniper Acres group after NewsChannel 21 made public their plea — and some help already had resulted, with a rock pit owner coming with a plow and a woman able to finally get her dog out.

Snow and sleet were making for treacherous roads over much of the state, with Oregon State Police warning that they can’t keep up with all the crashes.

Freezing rain, sleet and snow created slick roads and hazardous driving conditions throughout Oregon, especially on I-5 in the Eugene area. There were numerous crashes and vehicles spinning out.

And Oregon’s winter storm may have its first victim. Portland police released a statement Saturday saying a woman in her 50s is believed to have died of exposure due to cold temperatures.

She has tentatively been identified as a 52-year-old who resides in Downtown Portland. The Oregon State Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy and ultimately determine the cause of death.

The city of Portland closed its community centers and indoor pools due to the conditions, and many other attractions were closed as well, including the Oregon Zoo.

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