Spring storm dumps snow in parts of Willamette Valley

Spring storm dumps snow in parts of Willamette Valley
Snow coats the city of Sandy Wednesday morning. (Photo by Paul Stoos, KATU News)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An early-spring storm dumped 2 to 4 inches of snow on Eugene, gave commuters in the Willamette Valley fits and closed a highway through the Cascade Range on Wednesday.

The Oregon Transportation Department reported crashes on Interstate 5 and crashes and downed trees on other highways.

U.S. 20 was closed in two places, near Santiam Pass in the Cascade Range by a landslide and east of Sweet Home because trees fell on power lines.

Transportation Department spokesman Lou Torres says there was 6 feet of snow on the highway at the pass, and crews were headed up from both sides with heavy equipment to clear the road. A lengthy closure was expected, he said.

The highway links the Corvallis-Albany area in the Willamette Valley with Bend in Central Oregon.

The Weather Service forecast another 1 to 3 inches of snow Wednesday in the southern Willamette Valley, and the storm could leave up to 2 feet of snow in the central and northern sections of the Cascade Range in Oregon, said hydrologist Andy Bryant.

"This will probably go down as a pretty notable storm at the turn from winter to spring," he said.

He said there was concern about flooding later Wednesday or Thursday in the Roseburg area and along the Coquille River flowing out of the Coast Range and through Coos County.

The storm was expected to last into early Thursday, turning east as showers.

The storm stretches from Roseburg in southwest Oregon to southwest Washington and east through central and northeast Oregon.

The additional snow in the Coast and Cascade ranges could provide a boost for summer water supplies in Oregon.

The snowpack was below average in much of the state during the winter, raising concern about water for irrigation, municipal systems and recreation.