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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Snow, freezing rain hits usually misty Portland

Twin sisters Lena and Neea Mende, 9, go sledding at Gabriel Park in Portland, Thursday. (Stephanie Yao Long / Associated Press)
By Steven Dubois and Gillian Flaccus Associated Press

PORTLAND – A wintry mix of snow, ice and rain showered fear and excitement Thursday in Portland – a city that typically lives under a cloud of mist and drizzle – and other parts of Oregon.

Heavy, swirling snow fell downtown, making for slick driving.

Strong winds toppled trees, and Portland General Electric reported about 22,000 customers in neighboring Clackamas County lost power before it was mostly restored, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Forecasters expected a couple inches of snow to stick to the ground, followed by freezing rain, heightening concerns about a treacherous commute in the region that does not use salt on slippery roads. The forecast calls for just rain eventually Friday morning.

On Thursday evening, Portland transit service said on Twitter that two light rail lines were disrupted because of ice on overhead power wires. At least one line of bus service had been canceled, and others were traveling, many with chains, on snow routes.

Freezing rain was also hitting Vancouver, Washington, and over 3 inches of snow had fallen at the state Capitol in Olympia by Thursday evening.

Many school districts canceled classes before the first flurries fell. Some will be closed Friday and others are opening late.

Joey Moffenbeier, 12, went sledding with some friends on a hill at the high school in Lake Oswego, a Portland suburb.

“We’ve been waiting all day for the snow and it finally started, so we decided to come out,” he said. “We’ve been getting some good rides in but we need a little bit more to make it really good.”

Some children, unaccustomed to snow, weren’t wearing gloves and had only sweatshirts on in temperatures that dipped below freezing – but they didn’t let that stop the fun.

A group of older boys played soccer on a school’s field. They were joined by some friends and the soccer snow match turned into a snowball fight.

“We’re just out here having fun. It’s so uncommon for us to have snow here,” Colin Hardy, 15, said. “The snow day got called early, too, so we were all ready for a day off.”

As the day wore on, the fat flakes of snow transitioned into a mix of snow and freezing rain and driving became treacherous. Cars crept along roads and some spun out as they tried to navigate curves.

Portland city government also closed, as did federal court, the zoo and state offices in several counties.

Higher snowfall totals were expected in the Coast Range and Columbia River Gorge.

National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Cullen said as much as 10 inches of snow could fall in the Gorge, particularly from Cascade Locks toward Hood River.

Wintry weather also swept through Central Oregon.

In Bend, snow fell steadily and ducks swam among ice floes in the Deschutes River.

The National Weather Service forecast new snow accumulation of up to 8 inches in Central Oregon.

The Columbian reported that two people were injured when trees fell into houses – one in Vancouver and another in Camas.