Rockne Roll/News-Register
Brothers Ledger, right, 4, and Rowan Easterday, 10, tear through Lower City Park in McMinnville on their sled Thursday.
Rockne Roll/News-Register Brothers Ledger, right, 4, and Rowan Easterday, 10, tear through Lower City Park in McMinnville on their sled Thursday.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Michael Cook works to roll up the base of a snowman as 3-year-old Scarlett Rickert lobs a snowball at him Thursday.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Michael Cook works to roll up the base of a snowman as 3-year-old Scarlett Rickert lobs a snowball at him Thursday.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##A man rides his bicycle through the snow along Southwest Washington Street.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##A man rides his bicycle through the snow along Southwest Washington Street.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Eleven-year-old Joe Mullis, left, and 15-year-old Zach Moore take flight from their makeshift sled jump at McMinnville’s Lower City Park.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Eleven-year-old Joe Mullis, left, and 15-year-old Zach Moore take flight from their makeshift sled jump at McMinnville’s Lower City Park.
By News-Register staff • 

Snow arrives right on time

Snow predictions in Western Oregon are often met with well-earned skepticism, as it is notoriously difficult to predict when snow will fall in the Willamette Valley. But this time, it made its appearance right on schedule Thursday morning, shutting most schools, several businesses and numerous events.

By noon, the city of McMinnville had closed all its offices, along with its library, community center and aquatic center. The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum had shut down as well, as had an array of businesses and every public school in the county.

The Wheatland Ferry also remains closed.

The school closure was unprecedented in both scope and timing.

It is rare for every school in the county to come to the same decision in the face of adverse weather, and even rarer for them to do so in advance. But this time, most schools made the call Wednesday night and the rest early Thursday morning, with not a flake yet in evidence.

Though the day dawned dry, the forecast called for a potentially treacherous mix of snow and freezing rain. And snow began to fall in earnest about 9:30 a.m., as predicted.

McMinnville-based Linfield College and Newberg-based George Fox University closed their Portland sites, but bucked the trend by keeping their home campuses open — at least initially. Linfield decided at noon to close, and George Fox did the same at 4 p.m. Chemeketa Community College also opened in McMinnville, although on a delayed schedule.

But Head Start and the Virginia Garcia Clinic were among many local agencies joining the museum, city and public schools in shutting down for the day.
Snow fell off and on through much of the day, turning roads slick and piling up high enough on lawns to provide the makings of a modest snowman or two.

Several people took advantage of the opportunity for running, or more sedate walks, through the charming winter scenery.

Those driving the hazardous streets, however, were less enthused. Dozens of crashes occurred around the county, from fender benders to rollover crashes.
By mid-afternoon, however, freezing rain was beginning to put in its widely predicted appearance. And most residents found the ice much less welcome than the snow preceding it.

The Portland office of the National Weather Service predicted temperatures, which hovered around freezing during the day, would drop during the night, turning slush to ice. About 2:30 p.m. the service issued a second winter storm warning through 7 p.m., with snow accumulation expected primarily in Yamhill County. However, it predicted the temperatures would rise into the 40s Friday, producing a welcome melting.

Forecasters were expecting the weather to remain above freezing through the weekend, with perhaps some nighttime lows in the 20s next week, producing some additional snow and ice.

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