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Snow hits hard: Schools, airport, many others close


(Update: schools throughout Central Oregon cancel due to weather; other closures/cancellations added; police, fire responses challenged, advise stay home)

Snow piled up around in major amounts across the High Desert as a major storm moved in on Sunday and continued into Monday morning. Two of the three routes across the mountains were closed by an avalanche and downed lines and all flights were canceled at Redmond Airport until likely at least noon Tuesday.

Before daybreak, an avalanche shut Highway 20 about two miles west of Santiam Pass; drivers were urged to use alternate routes, though Highway 58 also was closed west of Oakridge due to numerous downed trees early Monday and a 40 mile stretch was closed (mileposts 30 to 70).

Schools across Central Oregon have canceled for the day.

The schools that are canceled include Bend-La Pine School District (evening activities also canceled), St. Francis of Assisi, Trinity Lutheran, Waldorf School, Eastmont School, Cascades Academy, Morning Star, Central Christian, Neighor Impact Head Start, High Desert and Desert Sky Montessori, Bridge Charter Academy, OSU-Cascades and COCC.

Also canceled: The Redmond School District, Redmond Proficiency Aacademy, REACH Redmond, Redmond Learning Center and Child Care, Three Sisters Adventist Christian School, Sisters School District, Sisters Christian Academy, Culver schools, Jefferson 509-J, Crook County schools, and Gilchrist schools.

“The safety of our students is our No. 1 one concern,” Sisters school Superintendent Curt Scholl said.

All state offices in the tri-county area and the Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson County Circuit Courts are closed, as is the Bend Social Security Office.

Central Oregon Radiology, Cascade Medical Imaging and Central Oregon MRI have closed their outpatient offices in Bend and Redmond. Hospital locations for Cascade Medical Imaging and Central Oregon MRI remain open.

Meanwhile, Cascades Disposal for the south side of Bend won’t be doing pickup and Bend Garbage & Recycling also reported no pickups and said customers can put out extra next week.

The Prineville and Redmond senior centers are closed. Redmond (and no doubt other) Meals on Wheels clients are reminded to open their Emergency Meal Kits if they need to do so. “Stay warm and stay safe,” officials say.

All NeighborImpact offices are closed.

Other closures include: all Deschutes Public Libraries, the OLLI U of O program,. Bend Parks and Rec Kids Inc., the Samara Day School, Growing Tree Childrens Center, the Cascade Swim Center and RAPRD Activity Center. All RAPRD programs at Redmond school facilities are canceled and the Cascade School of Music is closed.

Deschutes County commissioners canceled their Monday meetings.Bend city offices are closed, as are many county offices.

ODOT reported early Monday. that Highway 58 (Willamette Pass) was closed due to downed trees west of Oakridge.

The snowfall is heavy enough that even police and ambulances are getting stuck in the heavy snow, Redmond police Sgt. Al Fraker reported, meaning “extremely difficult response times and limited access.”

As a result, he said Monday morning it is “highly encouraged to stay inside, stay home and seek safety.”

NewsChannel 21 Chief Meteorologist Bob Shaw noted on the Sunrise show that back when winter was starting, forecasters had predicted an “easy start of winter and heavier toward the end,” which indeed has turned out to be the case on the High Desert.

Tune into NewsChannel 21 at Sunrise for the latest school closures and delays list. The “crawl” will update through the Fox rebroadcast from 7-9 a.m.


An online commenter south of Bend reported at least 8 inches of snow by 4 p.m. Sunday. Others said Awbrey Butte on thewWest side of Bend had 5-8 inches with ice underneath, and one reported seeing crews “plowing aggressively” on the COCC side of the butte.

Later, a Facebook commenter in southwest Bend reported having “close to a foot and counting and another person had 5 inches in the middle of town, while a La Pine resident reported over a foot of snow.

Around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, ODOT and local officials reported a rockslide blocking both lanes of the Paulina Highway (state Highway 380) at milepost 16, southeast of Prineville and nine miles west of Post. No injuries ere reported or vehicles hit, but officials said the rocks were reported to be “larger than refrigerators.” Later, TripCheck reported no to minimum delays

The snowslides were reported shortly before 11 a.m. about a mile west of the Santiam Pass summit, bringing big traffic backups. It was cleared, but two semitrucks apparently collided a short time later, causing more delays until the route was cleared by early afternoon, Oregon Department of Transportation Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy said.

Another crash blocked state Highway 372 (Century Drive), the road to Mt. Bachelor, near milepost 10 Sunday morning but was cleared in less than an hour.

A rollover crash was reported around 2:30 p.m. in the 25000 block of Alfalfa Market Road east of Bend, blocking westbound traffic. Three people were in the vehicle, two with reportedly non-life-threatening injuries.

Officials also reported an avalanche on state Highway 58 west of Willamette Pass Sunday afternoon about 10 miles east of McCredie Springs at milepost 58, as well as two vehicle spinouts and a jackknifed semi.

As expected, the snowstorm has brought other highway closures around the state. In southern Oregon, state Hwy. 138E between mileposts 17 and 60 (just east of Glide to Lower Toketee) was closed due to heavy snow and downed trees and power lines.

And in Eastern Oregon, Interstate 84 wes closed westbound Sunday night due to a crash west of Baker City.

Track the latest travel conditions at our ODOT TripCheck page.

Much of the Bend area saw rain and a rain-snow mix into Sunday afternoon as temperatures held above freezing, but weather spotters in areas near Bend already recorded up to 2 inches of snow by late morning, as did a spotter 6 miles north-northwest of Madras and another 8 miles east of Prineville. A Sisters-area spotter reported 4.2 inches by late morning.

The National Weather Service continued its winter storm warning through early Wednesday for Central Oregon and areas to the west, east and north, predicting 6-8 inches of snow by early Monday. In fact, for Bend, NWS forecasters say 17-30 inches of snow are possible by midweek (a bit lower than their earlier prediction of possible snowfall of 17 to 37 inches).

The snow began to stick throughout Bend later Sunday as a rollover crash was reported on Helmholtz Way south of Redmond.

The first school closures for Monday came in the late afternoon, from Spray and Fossil in Wheeler County, while Mitchell called a 2-hour delay in classes, followed by closure Monday due to the snow and a power outage.

At Mt. Bachelor, the biggest snowstorm of the season dumped 18 inches in 24 hours, pushing the resort finally above the 100-inch mark to 108 inches — and at day’s end, 26 new inches in 24 hours, for a 121-inch base. Officials warned of a high risk of dangerous tree wells and advised everyone to ski with a partner, keeping them in sight in the trees.

Up near Santiam Pass, Hoodoo Ski Area had nearly 24 inches and also topped the 100-inch mark for a late-season base of nearly 117 inches by day’s end.

Redmond Airport saw most flights on schedule as of Saturday afternoon, though one Alaska Airlines departure to Seattle was delayed as was an arrival from Portland.

But later, two Sunday night Alaska Airlines flights were canceled as were two early Monday morning departures, while another was delayed.

Check your flight status here:

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