The sun broke out and temperatures warmed over many parts of Central Oregon's snowy winter wonderland Sunday morning -- providing better conditions for government crews, contractors and regular folks to get busy shoveling, plowing, blowing and moving aside two-plus feet of snow from the past two days' onslaught.
Temperatures quickly rose to freezing in Bend on Sunday morning and several degrees above in the afternoon -- but then, as night fell, in moved fog that quickly dropped visibility.
Redmond Airport reopened Sunday after a 36-hour closure due to heavy snowfall -- which officials said the first closure for 24 hours or longer in close to a quarter -century.
Some schools made early calls for Monday closures, including Jefferson County 509-J , Culver and the Redmond Proficiency Academy (Redmond schools already were planned to have no classes Monday for a district-wide curriculum day.)
Bend-La Pine Schools decided Sunday night on a two-hour delay of classes Monday morning.
"The decision to delay comes as the result of a record-breaking snow storm that has left much of the area blanketed in deep snow," the district said in Sunday night's announcement. "Bend-La Pine Schools' Transportation crews spent several hours driving area roads today and determined that the combination of sub-freezing temperatures and standing water, slush and snow on area roadways would make travel too risky for an on-time start in the morning."
City of Bend spokesman Justin Finestone said all city plow crews were out Sunday, including contractors, in hopes of clearing neighborhood streets by day's end. He said city crews have been working 12-hour shifts since Friday and were making good progress on the big task.
But because the snow rarely stopped falling heavily, it could take days for everyone on the High Desert to fully dig out.
Madras Airport reported 12 degrees, freezing fog and half-mile visibility at 7 p.m. Sunday, while the Bend Airport had 27 degrees, fog and a half-mile visibility.
The National Weather Service reported more snowstorm reports Sunday, including 18 inches in 24 hours by a spotter six miles southeast of Bend, for a total of 25 inches from the storm. Camp Sherman's spotter reported 22 inches fell on Saturday, another west-northwest of Bend reported 19 inches Saturday. Other reports included 14 inches in 24 hours seven miles northeast of Bend, eight inches west-northwest of Sisters and 4.5 inches north-northwest of Madras.
The NWS also warned Sunday that rising temperatures and snow melt could bring "minor nuisance flooding in urban areas and small creeks" over Central Oregon and other areas east of the Cascades. Water levels are expected to rise on rivers but remain below flood stage, forecasters said, adding that rain or snow could boost snow melt Tuesday and Wednesday as well.
Despite all that snow, Central Oregon and the rest of the state still have a lot of catching up to do, snowpack-wise. Automated Snotel readings Sunday morning showed the Upper Deschutes/Crooked River Basin still only at 50 percent of average snow-water content for this point in the winter and precipitation just 58 percent of normal.
Sgt. Nathan Garibay, emergency services manager for the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, issued a plea Saturday morning that residents "forgo travel plans and stay off the roadways" so crews could work to clear them, working on main roads before residential streets.
The NWS allowed its winter storm to expire at 10 p.m. Saturday.
And the new threat of a messy transition -- familiar to long-time High Desert residents -- a slight chance of freezing rain or sleet -- was pushed back 24 hours, to early Monday -- providing more time to clean up from the snowy onslaught.
But as it all melts, that could pose flooding problems, and-or an icy-slushy travel challenge.
Everyone had stories to tell of the challenges the heavy snow brought Friday night and Saturday.
Marily Badger of the Woodside Ranch neighborhood on Bend's south side said they "barely made it home (Friday) night and almost couldn't make it down our own driveway." She said the new snowfall was "very heavy, with branches breaking. It seems like a losing battle as we keep plowing, but we are afraid to stop."
But there also were plenty of stories of Central Oregon neighbors helping neighbors -- offering a stuck mail truck in Redmond a tow, shoveling the snow from elderly or disabled residents' sidewalks or porches and the like.
As of 3 p.m. Saturday, NWS storm spotter 24-hour snow totals included 19 inches in the Sisters area, 18 inches at Bend and Madras, 16 inches at Tumalo, 15 inches at Prineville and Sunriver, 15 1/2 inches at Terrebonne and 12 inches at Pelton Dam.
That Bend snowfall report obliterates the daily record for Feb. 8 snowfall of seven inches, set back in 1944, and for snow depth of 12 inches, set in 1969.
But the record official snow depth for Bend in the record period from 1928 to 2005 is 23 inches, set back on Jan. 4, 1982 -- a very snowy month -- though many of the closest highest readings came during the very snowy, memorable winter of 1992-93, according to the Western Region Climate Center. (Check the records and data for cities around Oregon at http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/summary/climsmor.html)
By noon, a Camp Sherman storm spotter had 22 inches in 24 hours, for a 29-inch tally on the ground.
Early Saturday afternoon, a spotter northwest of Bend reported 19 inches in 24 hours and it was coming down at a rate of an inch an hour.
Early Saturday morning, a National Weather Service storm spotter in Sisters said a foot of snow had fallen in 12 hours, for a total depth of 32 inches.
Another spotter north of La Pine had a 16-inch total in 24 hours -- and 20 inches in 48 hours.
A Warm Springs storm spotter reported 14 inches of new snow since Friday afternoon and a 27-inch total on the ground.
In Facebook posts to NewsChannel 21, Nancy Jones Foote reported 22 inches southwest of Sunriver, whileSara White McCool reported 23 inches near Round Butte near Madras. Near Sisters, Donna Scott said there was 25 inches on Holmes Road -- and Jennifer Gleason Smith reported 37 inches on George Cyrus Road in Sisters.
Meanwhile, to the south, Yvone Fuqua of La Pine said they had just one more inch of rain Saturday, "but man, the RAIN sucked!"
The snow wasn't just affecting people. The Three Rivers Humane Society in Madras reported Saturday that its tarps and shelters were being destroyed by the heavy snowfall, prompting movement of dogs to veterinarians or foster homes. For more information or how to help, call 541-475-6889.
In late Friday e-mails and Facebook posts to NewsChannel 21, Crooked River Ranch resident Jana Lynn said she had 13 inches on the ground and "still dumping" two hours later.
Jacqui Robinson at Tumalo Rim said they had 14 inches total. Charles Stuber reported 11 inches by the evening and there was 10 inches by then at Deschutes River Canyon Rim in southwest Bend.
A Deschutes River Woods resident reported 18 inches on the ground Friday night, while there were 10 to 14 inches in Juniper Canyon southeast of Prineville, according to Amie Hamilton.
And by 10 p.m. Friday, viewers in Madras, Crooked River Ranch and DRW all said the same magic number -- 20 inches, and still coming down. One Tumalo-area resident, Donna Johnson, reported an even higher number -- 2 1/2 feet, or 30 inches.