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More snow: C.O. school districts closed again Wednesday


(Update: NWS extends winter storm warnings to early Thursday; all school districts, COCC, OSU-Cascades again closed)

Plows, shovels, snowblowers and the like were the tools of the trade Tuesday in the big dig-out from the record Central Oregon snowfall that closed schools for a second day. And with more snow falling — possibly a foot or more by Thursday — all Central Oregon school districts and public colleges called cancellations for Wednesday as well.

Bend-La Pine, Redmond, Sisters, Jefferson County, Crook County, Culver and Gilchrist schools will be closed Wednesday, as will Central Oregon Community College and OSU-Cascades.

Wednesday closures also were called for Sisters Christian Academy, Trinity Lutheran in Bend, Waldorf School of Bend, Eastmont School in Bend, High Desert Learning Center, High Desert Montessori, Desert Sky Montessori, Inspire Early Learning Centers, Samara Day School, Reach Redmond before- and after-school programs, Phagan’s Central Oregon Beauty College and all NeighborImpact Head Start classes.

We’ll update this list through the night and morning.

In a note to parents, Redmond school officials said, “You may have been anticipating this call today as you try to dig your way out of your driveway, and now watch another wave of snow begin to fall.

“Our crews have made significant progress clearing pathways, driveways and parking lots, but with temperatures remaining low, significant snowfall already on the ground and an additional snowstorm coming overnight, remaining closed through Wednesday is the best call to ensure student safety.

“We do not normally make these decisions the night before, as sometimes forecasts are incorrect, but with the amount of snow already on the ground, any additional amount is going to cause difficulties for everyone,” the announcement concluded.

Bend-La Pine echoed that theme in canceling Wednesday classes and evening activities: “Normally weather-related school closures are determined and announced early in the morning, but due to continued hazardous conditions, the decision to close schools tomorrow has been made in advance.”

As snow began falling again in Bend Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service extended its winter storm warning by 24 hours, to 4 a.m. Thursday, warning of possibly 5-10 inches more across the region by that time (though its Bend forecast adds up to a foot or more).

“Travel could be very difficult,” the update said. “The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.”

For the higher elevations — the east slopes of the Cascades, such as La Pine, Sunriver and Sisters — the winter storm warning also was extended until early Thursday, and in that zone, forecasters predict another 7-13 inches.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” forecasters said, repeating a by-now familiar warning.

Check all our NWS alerts here.

With the new predicted snowfall, the Redmond Area Park and Recreation District said it would be closing the Cascade Swim Center at 5 p.m. Tuesday and the Activity Center at 6:30 p.m. Both plan to reopen Wednesday at 8 a.m., but urge checking their website at for updates.

Also, the Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization Technical Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday is being postponed. The Crook County Foundation has postponed Prineville Mayor Steve Uffelman’s ‘What’s Brewing?’ presentation a month, to March 27.

Cascade Disposal also announced it will be suspending routes again on Wednesday, due to the weather.

“The safety of our customers, employees and those traveling in our service area is important and we want to keep everyone safe,” the company said.

Extra trash will be collected the following Wednesday. Recycling will be collected the following scheduled recycle day.

With two feet or more snow already on the ground over a wide area of the High Desert on Monday, the school closure decisions for Tuesday came early, with all of the region’s school districts canceling classes for a second day. But after dark came word that U.S. Highway 20 had been cleared of an avalanche near Santiam Pass and reopened.

ODOT said all lanes had reopened by 7 p.m. after a large slide closed the road since early Monday morning, but they also warned people to still be cautious in winter driving conditions.

State Highway 126 remained closed Tuesday at the intersection with Highway 20 and drivers were urged to use alternate routes. Other stretches was closed farther east due to downed trees and power lines. Also, state Highway 58 also remained closed due to trees down west of Oakridge.

So wherever you go, especially over the mountains, be sure to check TripCheck first.

Things were no better at Redmond Airport, which had hoped to reopen to flights Tuesday afternoon but announced it would be closed until Wednesday morning after the heavy snowfall damaged the FAA’s Instrument Landing System.

As of Tuesday morning, areas around Bend ranged from 18 to 26 inches of snow on the ground, according to NWS observers, while Madras had a foot, Prineville 15 inches, Redmond 21-23 inches and Sisters 27 inches.

Another snowfall record fell Tuesday. The NWS said Prineville reported 5 1/2 inches of snow, smashing the old Feb. 26 record of 2 inches, set back in 1960 (records date back to 1897).

NewsChannel 21’s Bob Shaw said another very cold night could bring 4 to 8 inches of snow by Wednesday morning.

Across the region, Bend-La Pine, Redmond, Culver, Jefferson County 509-J, Crook County and Sisters schools were closed again Tuesday, as were Central Oregon Community College, OSU-Cascades. Eastmont School, St. Francis of Assisi, Central Christian School, Cascades Academy, Sisters Christian Academy and Trinity Lutheran School also canceled Tuesday classes, as did Gilchrist Junior/Senior High School.

Eastmont Principal Anthony Parla said, “We have several staff members snowed in and we need more time to clear the snow from the school.”

Redmond School District said programs and activities also are canceled for Tuesday:

“Although our crews have worked endless hours clearing parking lots and sidewalks, they are unable to stay ahead of it,” the district’s statement said. “Given the forecast of additional snowfall, we feel it’s best to cancel and give our RSD crews, as well as city and county road crews another day to make a safe return to school.”

Other Tuesday closures included all Bend Park and Rec facilities, the Waldorf School of Bend, Samara Day School and High Desert Montessori, as well as High Desert Learning Center, Redmond Learning Center, Reach Redmond before- and after-school programs, the Redmond Senior Center, Desert Song Hygiene Bank and Phagan’s Central Oregon Beauty School.

Head Start classes were canceled again Tuesday, but NeighborImpact said its offices were open.

There also was no trash pickup again Tuesday for the region’s haulers (Bend Garbage & Recycling, Cascade Disposal and High Country Disposal), due to current weather conditions.

Customers are asked to put extras out next week on their regular scheduled collection day. The offices were also closed on Tuesday.

Meals on Wheels won’t be delivered on Tuesday in Bend, Sisters or La Pine and clients are being advised to use the emergency, shelf-stable meals provided late last year, according to the announcement from the Council on Aging of Central Oregon.

Bend Parks and Rec also planned limited operations Tuesday, and we’ve posted their announcement in our Community Billboard section as well.

And Cascades East Transit operated its Bend fixed-route and Community Connector buses on a modified schedule Tuesday. We have the details in this Community Billboard item.

For days, forecasters had predicted a foot, 2 feet – even 3 feet of snow for the Bend area and much of the High Desert. Even after a mild early winter and near the end of a snowy February (though not as snowy as some days’ predictions), that seemed a bit much to expect, for many.

I mean, seriously?

Then it happened — with a slam-bang wallop that just wouldn’t stop, bringing back memories of the snowy winter of 2016-17 that some referred to as Snowpocalypse.

Snowpocalypse 2019, anyone?

The last week of February began Monday with steady, very heavy snowfall from a slow-moving late-winter storm that closed schools, governments, courts, Redmond Airport – and highways, including two of the three mountain routes in and out of Central Oregon.

Many business owners worked very hard to keep their parking lots cleared to welcome customers, but folks everywhere were getting stuck in the seemingly never-ending snowfall.

Meanwhile, residents who needed to get out and get somewhere resorted to skis, snowshoes and other ways to avoid joining the many whose vehicles got stuck, slid off roads and the liike.

By 7 a.m. Monday, weather spotters around Bend reported 12 to 14 1/2 inches of snow — and it was still falling at mid-afternoon.

Elsewhere, by 7 a.m., a weather spotter northwest of Madras reported 8 inches of snow (for an 11 1/2-inch total) while spotters northwest of Redmond reported about 17 inches of snow, as did Sisters (where the total was 21 inches) Prineville spotters reported 9 1/2 inches of snow.

By late morning, a Madras resident reported 26 inches of snow at their house and a Powell Butte resident reported 18 inches, while a Prineville resident said 2 feet had piled up, as had a northwest Redmond resident

And the snow just kept falling. By 12:45 p.m., the National Weather Service said Bend had reported 26 inches of snow in 24 hours (more than an inch an hour).

Records fell for Feb. 25 pretty easily, and early. The National Weather Service, which has a winter storm warning in place until early Wednesday, said Bend had 12 1/2 inches of snow by early afternoon, triple the previous record for the day — set way back in 1917 (the Bend records go back to 1901).

Prineville alrady had nearly 10 inches, officially blasting the 1928 record of 1.5 inches for the day, in records that date back to 1897. And on the north side of Camp Sherman, nearly 4 feet of snow were reported by Monday afternoon.

Mt. Bachelor had a whopping 48 inches of snow in 48 hours – a powder-palooza, but with some lifts closed, there were long lines Monday – and then there was a power outage early Monday to complicate things, too.

Back in town, along with all those shovels and snowblowers and the people using them hard at work and home, numerous government plow crews were also out and about – but with the snow not stopping, many neighborhoods hadn’t seen them even once by afternoon.

The city of Sisters said its public works crew was working at it but that it could “take a few days to clear all of our streets.”

Like ODOT, Deschutes County said its road crews were working 24/7 and had all available people and gear in use, along with contractors, with their main priority to keep arterial and collector streets plowed and passable. But with the snow still falling and the main roads as a priority, “it may take a day or two to clear the entire system once the snow stops.”

So their suggestion, like others: “Avoid travel if possible and drive cautiously when you have no choice.”

In response to an upset Bend resident who asked “where are the snowplows?” city Communications Director Anne Aurand said they had 16 pieces of city equipment out clearing the busiest main streets and contractors working in neighborhoods with another 18 pieces of equipment, “working around the clock.”

“We’ll have crews on the streets 24/7 until we’ve cleared the roads,” she promised, sharing a link to the city’s winter street operations plan and maps:

Aurand later noted it could take 24-36 hours to clear tne city’s 850 lane-miles of roads, considering plows usually have to go slower than 5 mph due to traffic, parked cars, lights etc.

She also said emergency snow zone parking restrictions could take effect Tuesday, as keeping cars off certain key streets can help the plows do their job. Drivers are urged to park off-street or on other nearby streets.

Aurand also noted that the city doesn’t clear driveways, as that would take “considerably more resources.” They are aware the berms plowed across a driveway or sidewalk cause inconvenience, but “the city’s snow removal plan is designed to provide cost-effective maintenance.”

The city official also urged everyone to check on their neighbors to see if they need help.

Even with all the travel headaches and hassles, good Samaritans also made themselves known, such as people who were pulling cars out of ditches along Highway 97, including a thankful NewsChannel 21 photographer’s news car.

Even delivery firms are being hit hard in their business.

UPS regional spokeswoman Trisha Letourneau said, “Severe winter weather is impacting many areas in Oregon. We are committed to the safety of our employees while working to minimize the effects on service. Contingency plans are in place to ensure that shipments arrive at their final destinations as quickly as conditions permit. There will be no pickup or deliveries in the affected areas.”

The High Desert was far from alone in highway and travel woes from the big late-winter storm, with closures on the coast, in southern Oregon (I-5) and much more. Track the latest at our ODOT TripCheck page.

Air travel also ground to a stop at Redmond Airport, until at least Tuesday. You can check the flight status page here.

We’ll add Tuesday’s school closings and other info to this story as we get it. We’re also posting some individual storm-related announcements, such as the Bend park district’s info, on our Community Billboard page.

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