Max Denning

Just a couple weeks ago, there was a murmur among residents about the lack of winter weather the Grande Ronde Valley this year. The National Weather Service measured only 3.5 inches of snow in January, 3 inches less than the average snowfall.

Those murmurs were quickly silenced this past week.

At 4:15 p.m. on Monday, the National Weather Service reported accounts from the public of 12 inches of snow falling since 4:15 p.m. on Sunday in La Grande. At 7:27 a.m. on Tuesday, a trained spotter from the National Weather Service reported 7.5 inches of snow accumulation in the past 17 hours and snow depth of 15 inches.

The National Weather Service in Pendleton had forecasted the snow multiple days out and had issued a winter weather advisory this past weekend until Tuesday.

While it may seem a little late in the season for the first significant snowfall accumulation, Robert Brooks, hydrometeorological technician for the NWS in Pendleton, said this isn’t necessarily rare.

“You guys can get snow as late as April,” Brooks said. “It’s not uncommon to have snow now.”

Brooks did call it an “interesting” cold weather system because it was followed quickly by another system including more low temperatures and high amounts of precipitation. He also noted that the snow was far from over.

NWS forecasts for the rest of the week do not include more than a single inch of snow over any 12-hour period, but also includes at least a trace of snowfall every 12-hour period until Monday.

The weather has caused a number of school and road closures over the past few days. On Monday, Elgin and Imbler school districts were closed for the day. North Powder School District released students at 12:15 p.m.

I-84 westbound was closed at the La Grande Exit 265 for several hours on Monday afternoon as well, due to a crash involving a semi-truck.

On Tuesday, La Grande and Elgin school districts were on a two-hour delay due to road conditions.

Today, La Grande School District delayed classes two hours. As of press time, no other districts in the county had yet to delay classes.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer