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Oregon winter storm cancels school, closes roads, cuts power

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When the winter weather clogs up things in Portland, the real snow bunnies rush to make it up the mountain. (KPTV)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Schools throughout Oregon delayed start times or closed altogether as another round of winter weather hit parts of the Northwest, dropping a foot of snow in areas including Eugene and Bend, producing slick roads and causing canceled flights at Portland’s airport.

School districts including Portland, Reynolds, Hillsboro and Tigard-Tualatin announced delays Monday while Beaverton and Salem-Keizer closed for the day.

While the Portland/Vancouver metro area was expected to see anywhere from a trace of snow to 2 inches (4.5 centimeters) by Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Portland reported that 12 inches (30 centimeters) had fallen at the Eugene Airport.

The snow prompted school closures in the Eugene, Bethel, Springfield and other school districts in the Lane County area, the Register-Guard reported . University of Oregon also closed.

Emerald People’s Utility District said more than 10,000 of their customers were without power in Lane County. The utility advised its customers to prepare to be without power for up to a week or more.

The city of Eugene declared an ice/snow emergency requiring drivers to remove vehicles from snow emergency routes.

Devon Ashbridge, a spokesperson for Lane County, said that although snow plow crews had been working since Sunday, roadways were still relatively treacherous with hundreds of downed trees and power lines across county roads.

Authorities in the area warned drivers to stay home. Highway 58 was closed between Lowell and Oakridge where state transportation officials said more than 100 fallen trees had been cleared with more to do. Highway 126 also was closed between Veneta and Mapleton.

Interstate 5 between Sutherlin and Cottage Grove in Oregon also was closed.

David Bishop, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Lane County got “the lion’s share” of the snow in western Oregon Monday.

Brian Nieuwenhuis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford, told the Oregonian that the southern part of the state also was experiencing a lot of rain and/or snow.

In Roseburg and surrounding areas, 4 inches (10 centimeters) of snow followed a heavy rain storm, and a river in Roseburg flooded Sunday night.

Mountains in the area were receiving a large amount of snow, with a report of 4 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) at Diamond Lake, Nieuwenhuis said.

“There is snow falling all the way down to the beach in Coos County and Douglas County,” Nieuwenhuis said, adding that there are also places along the coast that “have picked up over 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain in the last 24 hours.”

In fact, Nieuwenhuis said, pretty much anywhere it isn’t snowing, it’s raining, including in Medford.

In central and eastern Oregon, Jim Smith, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Pendleton, said Monday that his agency had reports of 14 inches (36 centimeters) of snow Sunday into Monday morning in Bend and one report of 20 inches (50 centimeters) near Redmond.

Schools throughout the region closed and flights were canceled at Redmond Airport until at least noon Tuesday, KTVZ-TV reported .

An avalanche closed Oregon 20 in both directions about two miles west of the Santiam Pass summit.

The snowfall is heavy enough that even police and ambulances were getting stuck, Redmond police Sgt. Al Fraker said, meaning “extremely difficult response times and limited access.”

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