Snowfall - and crashes - follow High Desert's high winds

Mountains get dumping skiers, boarders waited for

Winter weather causing problems on...

(Update: Snowfall sparks crashes, but also dumps on ski resorts)

A Saturday of heavy winds that brought down trees and power lines around the High Desert was followed by a thin layer of snowfall early Sunday that led to several crashes around the region. Much more snow fell on the mountains, making travel tricky but warmly greeted by Presidents' Day weekend skiers and snowboarders.

Sisters got about two inches of snow from the front that moved through, while Bend and other areas had less than an inch. There was more snow to the south,  

Still, it was enough to make for slick roads that sent vehicles off Highway 97 north of La Pine, mostly slide-offs and rollovers, though there were a few collisions, none that involved any serious injuries, Deschutes County 911 dispatchers said. 

A van rolled onto its top on Highway 97 with five people in it, while an SUV also ended up on its top at mid-morning. Other crashes were reported on Mt. Washington Drive and at the Benham Falls day-use area.

In Bend, a break in the weather melted the thin snow layer on streets and led to scattered clouds and dry streets by Sunday afternoon, though more snow and cold weather was in the forecast for the start of the week.

Travel over the mountains was dicier, with chains or traction tires required in the passes. Check the latest updates at our ODOT TripCheck page.

But it was long-overdue, heavenly fresh "pow" on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor, which reported 13 inches of new snow in 24 hours for a 74-inch depth after Saturday's 100 mph-plus winds. Before all that dry powder, a severe ice storm hit, with ice six to 10 inches thick on the Outback and Northwest lifts by Sunday morning.

But it was cold (in the single digits) and winds were still strong Sunday, hitting 80 mph on Northwest Express and topping 40 mph at the Sunrise lift and hitting 50 at Pine Marten.

Hoodoo Ski Area also got some long-awaited new snow, reporting nearly 11 inches.

Winds gusting past 60 mph in places raked the High Desert Saturday, toppling trees and in at least two areas taking down power lines with it, the most serious situation in the Cloverdale area that knocked out power to hundreds for the rest of the day.

Central Electric Cooperative said on its outage update page Saturday evening that a tree blown into overhead power lines by the high winds southeast of Sisters broke five power poles on Cloverdale Road between highways 20 and 126 around 4:20 p.m., taking out a major feeder line out of the Sisters substation.

The outage originally affected about 830 CEC members, though some switching cut that number by about 100, officials said. However, it took until 3:30 a.m. to restore service, officials said, due to the time-consuming replacement of removing old power poles and excavating to put in new ones, then stringing the lines back in place.

Winds also knocked out power to 105 Pacific Power customers Saturday evening at the northern end of Crooked River Ranch, according to Pacific Power's Oregon outage page, which estimated it would take until 5 a.m. Sunday to full restore.

Earlier, a fallen tree blocked Twin Bridges Road at White Rock Loop in the Tumalo area. Pacific Power reported about 60 customers had lost power around 12:30 p.m. in that area and said it would take until late afternoon to restore.

Other trees reported toppled onto the Cline Falls Highway west of Redmond and Huntington Road in La Pine, as well as on Highway 242 (the McKenzie Pass Highway) in Sisters near West McKinney Butte Road. Some Sisters-area good Samaritans used a pickup to tow a tree off a road so it could reopen.

The National Weather Service reported Saturday peak wind gusts of 69 mph at Wanoga Butte, 66 mph in the Sisters area and 58 mph in Bend. They were even higher on Mt. Bachelor, where top winds clocked at 106 mph at the Northwest Express lift Saturday afternoon and again early Sunday morning, even hitting 87 mph at mid-mountain at the Sunrise lift on the busy Presidents' Day weekend.

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