Snow covered flowers
No problems reported in West Valley after late winter snow
By Marguerite Alexander
Correspondent, The Sun
It’s been a roller coaster ride weather-wise in northwest Oregon the past week, but the West Valley dodged the one-two punch of high winds followed by low-level snow fall that followed a brief taste of spring-like weather late last week.
Unseasonably warm weather teased residents into thinking spring had arrived on Thursday. The National Weather Service reported a high of 62 degrees in McMinnville on March 8 followed by 61 degrees on March 9, well above the average temperature of 55 degrees for this time of year.
The taste of spring was short-lived, though. On Monday one of the strongest storms of the season rumbled onshore bringing hurricane force gusts to the coast and a continuous downpour of rain to the valley.
During the Monday morning hours the Oregon coast registered wind gusts nearing 90 miles per hour. The wind, coupled with the heavy rains, caused trees to topple, which knocked out power and forced the closure of stretches of several major coastal highways including Highway 101.
The wind was followed by a historic snowfall at the coast. In Tillamook 8.5 inches of snow fell, while Newport recorded 6 inches.
“This storm will likely go down in the record books as one of the largest coastal snowstorms in the month of March ever recorded at some locations,” said Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society. “Records date back to the late 1800s along the Oregon coast,” he added.
While it was windy in the West Valley, there were no reports of heavy damage or widespread power outages. Heavy rainfall caused the river to rise but it stayed well within its banks.
Monday’s rainfall total as registered at the WeatherBug station at Faulconer-Chapman School measured one inch for the day. At 2 p.m. on Tuesday the rainfall total for the month had climbed to 2.15 inches.
While the valley floor received only a dusting of snow on Monday night and Tuesday, trees in the coastal hills were bowed down under the weight of the wet snow. One report indicated 5 to 6 inches of snow on Rock Creek Road near Buck Hollow.
PHOTO CAPTION: A week before the official start of Spring, snow fell on the West Valley and all over the Northwest, covering a newspaper box on top of Buckhollow Road with approximately six inches of powder and dusting crocuses that have already blossomed in front of the Sheridan Fire Station. (Photos by Clinton Vining)