About two-tenths of an inch of rain fell in Pendleton overnight, the National Weather Service in Pendleton reported this morning, but the bigger mid-April surprise was snow that fell at about the 2,000-foot level, meteorologist Diann Coonfield said.
The snow caused some problems on Cabbage Hill on Interstate 84. Three semi-trucks blocking the roadway prompted the Oregon Department of Transportation to close the freeway to eastbound traffic at milepost 216 at the bottom of the hill at 7 a.m., said Kirk Locke of ODOT.
The eastbound lanes of I-84 were still closed at 9:30 a.m., but Locke said they were "working to get it open pretty soon" because conditions were improving.
Athena, Weston, Helix and Adams were dusted with snow this morning. As of 9 a.m., five inches of snow was reported at Meacham Lake, 51/2 inches in Condon and six inches at Tollgate, Coonfield reported.
A low pressure system was expected to drive the precipitation eastward by noon, she said, and the snow level should rise.
The unexpected snow could be a boon to wheat growth and quality this season, said Tammy Dennee, executive director of the Oregon Wheat Growers League.
It all depends on whether the snow lays on the wheat for a protracted length of time, she said.
"If it doesn't and melts into the soil, we'll be fine," she said, and the extra precipitation could be good for the crop, since growers have been worried about another dry year.
In Hermiston, public works crews battled a deluge of water in overflowing storm drains this morning in five locations.
Water reached the undercarriages of some vehicles at Elm Avenue at Fourth Street, Fourth Street and Dogwood Avenue, Fifth Street and Newport Avenue and 12th Street and Orchard Extension.
Public Works Director Ron Sivey said crews were sucking and pumping water out of storm drains to ease the flooding.
"It's just a high volume of water," he said around 9 a.m. "Everything is working as well as it can. We're just been getting a deluge of water since last night, but it looks like it's easing up. Hopefully we'll have it taken care of in a couple of hours."