By Steve DuBois, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — 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, prompting motorists to avoid roads normally clogged with traffic. Strong winds toppled trees, and Portland General Electric reported about 7,000 customers in neighboring Clackamas County lost power before it was mostly restored.
Forecasters expected a couple inches of snow to stick before freezing rain arrives, heightening concerns about a treacherous evening commute in the region that does not use salt on slippery roads.
Many school districts canceled classes before the first flurries fell. 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 east toward Hood River.
Wintry weather also swept through Central Oregon, causing blizzard-like conditions in Ochoco National Forest. Few drivers traveled on Highway 26 over the pass between Prineville and Mitchell.
In Bend, snow fell steadily and ducks swam among ice floes in the Deschutes River.
Visibility was near zero on U.S. 97 between Redmond and Bend, with at least one crash occurring Thursday along that icy stretch.
The National Weather Service forecast new snow accumulation of up to 8 inches in Central Oregon.
Snow also fell in Vancouver, Washington. The Columbian reported that two people were injured when trees fell into houses — one in Vancouver and another in nearby Camas.
Lisa El-Hoot of Vancouver was asleep when the tree crashed, briefly trapping her underneath the rubble. She was freed by her husband and three teenage children.
Her son, Abdul El-Hoot, told the newspaper, “I heard a loud bang . my sister came down and screamed ‘mom’s in trouble.’”
She was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, as was the woman in Camas.
Near Corvallis, Oregon, one person died in a traffic crash on Highway 99. Oregon State Police said icy roads were a factor.