Snow closes schools, slows commute

The Associated Press /


Published Feb 25, 2011 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

PORTLAND — In Oregon, a dusting of snow, ranging from a trace to about 2 inches in the Portland metro area, was enough to close schools and cancel events across the city and its suburbs.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and Portland television stations showed light traffic during the Thursday morning commute on the main highways and streets, which were mostly clear as temperatures hovered above freezing and much of the snow melted away.

In southern Oregon, school officials in Ashland and the Three Rivers School District also canceled classes. The Three Rivers announcement on its website noted that remote areas already were dangerous for buses and conditions likely would get worse through the day.

“It is not only important to the district that students arrive at school safely, but that we are able to get students home safely as well,” the online statement said.

TriMet use increases

Mary Fetsch, a TriMet spokeswoman in Portland, said Thursday the transit agency saw an increase of about 20,000 trips above average for a Wednesday on buses and light rail as TV stations predicted snow for the area.

“We did see an uptick before the snow hit, so people in our estimation were opting for transit,” Fetsch said, adding that TriMet officials expected Thursday ridership to fall below average because of school closures and event cancellations.

Oregon State Police said the driver of the truck pulling a box trailer loaded with produce lost control in the snow shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 at the Highway 20 interchange in Salem, lost control and rolled over, but there were no injuries.

A number of minor traffic accidents were reported in rural areas near Salem, including the junction of Highways 22 and Highway 99W, after city and Marion County road crews prepared for heavy winter weather that arrived mostly as a light coating of wet snow.

“It’s a tricky forecast,” said Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.

A winter storm warning the weather service issued for Western Oregon remained in effect Thursday, with snow showers and flurries expected across the Willamette Valley, the most heavily populated area of the state, and in southern Oregon.

Sunny weekend?

Temperatures were expected to drop into the 20s and teens at night as the snow tapers off, with mostly sunny skies predicted by the weekend before more typical rainy and warmer weather returns.

Earlier this week, forecasters said as much as 6 inches could fall by Thursday, and TV stations were providing tips to prepare for the cold and snow as part of their coverage.

“I’m not surprised,” said Dennis Heath, who bundled up for cold temperatures in a gray puffy parka and knit hat as he waited for a city bus in Salem. “They always say it’s going to snow, and it never does.”