Surprise Snow Storm 'Historic' for Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – It was pretty and it was very white, but it was also a lot of chaos that descended on the Oregon coast late Monday afternoon. Of all the places to get adversely affected by a snow storm, the coastal region got it bad – about as bad as the coast range (above: Nehalem resident Mila Galvin-Woodward took this shot of Highway 101 north of Manzanita around 6 p.m.).
Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, called this a “historic March snowstorm.” While the frequency of kooky snow occurrences – rare for the coast in general – have abruptly increased in recent years, this was one for the record books.
“It appears that the last significant snow event on the Oregon coast in the month of March was in 1966 (45+ years ago),” Pierce said at 11 p.m. Monday night. “Although snowfall totals have yet to be determined along the coast, road cams would suggest about 2 inches have fallen from Seaside to Newport as of 10 p.m.”
In fact, the totals wound up near four to six inches for many coastal spots.
In the Manzanita and Cannon Beach areas there were numerous reports of accidents as early as 8 p.m.
Near Pacific City late Monday afternoon Iphoto courtesy Sandlake Country Inn)
As early as 9 p.m., LincolnCountyNews.com reported that Cape Foulweather had become “unpassable,” as the towering headland between Newport and Depoe Bay was so thick with wet, slushy snow and fallen trees that it had also become littered with wrecked cars. This chaotic combination left the summit essentially untraversable, except for a lucky few.
Rick Leoni, owner of Trollers Lodge in Depoe Bay, had heard a large amount of stories about the wrecks and mishaps atop Foulweather by 10 p.m. Leoni said one couple was desperately trying to arrange lodging for their son by phone, who was trapped near the summit for a while. They eventually called and said he'd made it over and was heading south again on 101.
Even rescuers were trapped on top of Cape Foulweather for a time, as their efforts to free vehicles from ditches found them stuck behind falling trees. A snow plow was eventually able to lurch its way through the major debris and clear one lane for traffic.
A car on Highway 20 outside of Newport slid off the road and into a creek. LincolnCountyNews.com reports all occupants got out of the vehicle in good condition.
The central coast had already been hit by heavy winds during the day. Then as those died down, the rain turned to snow, covering up the already-very wet patches and creating more hazardous conditions.
In Lincoln City, Portland resident Tyrel Datwyler headed into town for a pool league tournament Monday night and reported seeing several cars having slid off the side of Highway 18. Later, he and numerous others in Lincoln City reported either power outages or power problems resulting in dimmed lights.
Numerous coastal locals talked about major issues in their area on Oregon Coast Beach Connection's Facebook page.
In Otis, Anne Cooper said the power was out for a while. Other residents said more than four inches had fallen in Lincoln City and that power surges were happening periodically.
Tony Van Meter said three inches of snow had hit Waldport and tree limbs were breaking left and right.
Some traffic delays happened on the routes to the coast, including Highway 18, Highway 26 and Highway 6. Highway 20 was eventually cleared after that wreck but is now closed near Toledo.
As of 5 a.m., the major problems seem to be waning along with the snowfall. No major advisories or warnings for snow have been issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), although it says some small dustings are possible in Portland, the Willamette Valley and even the north Oregon coast early Tuesday morning.
Some road closures still exist this morning along Highway 101, according to ODOT, including: Highway 20 near Toledo, and five miles east of Waldport on Highway 34, See the Oregon Coast Traffic Conditions and Coast Range page for full updates. Closures earlier at Yachats, Cape Foulweather and on Hwy 18 are now back open.
Even the coast range should be largely clear of problems. Some snow showers are possible along those routes in the morning but will turn to rain after 11 a.m. See more Oregon Coast Weather
Recent storm photos from the Oregon coast:
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