Contributed photo by James Thomas
A winter storm swept across much of northeast Oregon on Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day, covering the region in a blanket of snow.
It also contributed to plenty of car crashes, temporarily closed roads and one small house fire in Pendleton.
According to the National Weather Service in Pendleton, the city has had snowfall on Christmas Day just 8 percent of the time since record keeping began in the late 1800s. And Pendleton has celebrated a white Christmas — with snow covering the ground — just 10 percent of the time.
“I’d say that makes it an abnormal storm,” said assistant meteorologist Ann Adams of the National Weather Service’s Pendleton office.
Snowfall totals of about 5 inches were measured in the city of Pendleton, near Mission and from Dayton, Wash. to Lostine. About 4 inches was measured in La Grande, and about 2 inches of snow in the Hermiston area.
“It was a fairly even, widespread storm,” said Adams.
How long the snow will stick around is unclear. Temperatures are expected to rise into the high 30 and low 40s Wednesday and Thursday and perhaps into the mid 40s on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
But Adams also warned of the possibility of more snow, and maybe freezing rain, on Wednesday and Thursday. Especially along the Columbia River, some light freezing rain is expected on Wednesday, she said.
A winter weather advisory lasted until about 4 p.m. Monday for much of the region. Multiple crashes were noted on Interstate 84, many along Cabbage Hill but also in Morrow County and at least one in Pendleton. No long-term closures of the interstate, nor any fatalities in Eastern Oregon were noted as of press time Monday. Chain restrictions will remain in effect on Cabbage Hill for vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds.
And a fire about 1 p.m. Monday on the 300 block of Southwest 16th Street in Pendleton forced a family out of their home on Christmas. Although there was no major damage, likely some blankets too close to a heater caught fire and sent smoke through the house, according to the Pendleton Fire Department.