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Cold Temperatures Settle In As Oregon Tries To Clear Out From Record Snowfall

There's good news for Oregon after a historic round of snowfall led to Gov. Kate Brown declaring a state of emergency Wednesday: The state should be mostly free from snow for the rest of the week.

But temperatures east of the Cascades and in the Columbia River Gorge will remain dangerously low through the end of the week, with some possible flooding due to melting snow.

Central Oregon has been hit especially hard by the recent patch of harsh winter weather, with reports of roads covered by as much as 8 feet of snow in Crook County. Oregon officials denied a request from crook County for financial assistance to deal with the heavy snowfall there. But the snow, for now at least, appears over in this part of the state.

“People might see some flurries through the fog, but nothing accumulating,” said Marilyn Lohmann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pendleton.

Temperatures for the Bend, Prineville, Redmond and La Pine areas however could pose problems as they're expected to reach only the high teens and low 20s over the coming days, with evening lows in the single digits.

“This is unseasonably cold even for the cold parts of Oregon,” Lohmann said.

The snow piled up on roofs and in streets caused problems. In Bend, a large portion of the roof at the KorePine building collapsed due to snow accumulation Wednesday. Police report no one was injured in the collapse.

The FedEx building in Bend also had to be evacuated because of structural concerns due to the snow accumulation.

Bend-LaPine schools closed Thursday as school officials examine buildings across the district following the collapse of the gym roof at the Highland Magnet at Kenwood School.

“We are really lucky because kids usually go in there, you know, 9ish or so they have students go into the gym. They have music classes downstairs," David Howe, a battalion chief with the Bend Fire Department, said of the collapse. "Nobody was in there at all, and we’re really fortunate that happened."

Howe said the building will have to be completely demolished because the collapse has damaged several exterior walls.

Then there’s the threat of flooding from snowmelt. Lohmann said snowpack will have blocked storm drains in many residential areas, and even just the thawing from people driving on mostly cleared roads could lead to minor flooding as that melt tries to reach lower ground.

That threat of flooding will increase Monday when a new winter storm is expected to arrive in the Cascades and begin slowly moving east across the state. This front is expected to bring warmer temperatures and lots of rain but, as Lohmann noted, low temperatures in central and eastern Oregon could lead to freezing rain.

Conditions in the Blue Mountains may get even colder.

In the Willamette Valley, more than 5,300 Portland General Electric customers were still without power Thursday morning, according to the utility’s website. The largest number of customers were in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties. But residents in Columbia, Marion and Yamhill were also affected.

Only a few dozen customers were without power in Clark County Thursday morning, down from about 15,000 just after Tuesday night’s storm that dumped a foot or more of snow in parts of southwest Washington.

Clark County Public Works recommended Thursday morning that residents avoid travel if possible. Garbage and recycling was canceled Thursday. The agency said crews are still to plowing roads as well as spreading salt and gravel on hills.

For now the main highway running through the Gorge and out to eastern Oregon, Interstate 84, remains open with chain requirements for trucks. That's according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Highway 26 from Portland to Bend also remains open.

West of the Cascades things are looking much better, with additional snowfall unlikely.

“We’re going to very slowly warm up to near freezing (Thursday),” said Colby Neuman with the National Weather Service in Portland. The forecast calls mostly cloudy skies for the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge, but Neuman noted that areas that receive even modest bits of sunshine could start to see some melt Thursday afternoon.

Temperatures for the Portland metro area — where some neighborhoods received as much as 15 inches of snow between Tuesday evening and Wednesday — and surrounding counties are expected to dip back down into the teens tonight, and Neuman said that will continue to make roads slick and dangerous for commuters. Temperatures dropped into the high teens and low 20s Wednesday night, which means the potential for a slick layer of black ice on roads and sidewalks.

The thawing and refreezing will also make clearing secondary roads more difficult, Neuman said, as it will cause the snowpack to turn into a hard-packed block of ice.

Portland will get some help from Seattle in clearing its roads. The Seattle Department of Transportation is sending 11 trucks and 15 crew members to aid in the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s efforts to get the city back up and running. The additional resources arrive after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a state of emergency Wednesday for the city which will last through at least Sunday. Four homeless people have died of hypothermia in Portland this year.

A spokeswoman for the Portland International Airport said operations were back to normal, with only two flight cancellations as of Thursday morning.

During Tuesday night’s winter storm, the airport shutdown its runways for about two hours during some of the heaviest snow. About 1000 people were stranded at the airport overnight Tuesday.

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton said the agency is pooling resources from the southern Willamette Valley and coastal regions of the state to help clear up highways in the Portland area.

"We want to keep (the roads) operating, but we're not going to be able to get clear down to the pavement," Hamilton said. "We're still a long ways from driving the speed limit."

ODOT said its primary tools in clearing Portland area roads are plows and sand, not salt. And Hamilton cautioned that drivers should still take extra precautions, such as slowing down and checking travel conditions on TripCheck and municipal transportation sites before venturing out due to the threats of black ice and compacted snow on roadways.

"It's cold. Roads are slick, it's icy and it's dangerous out there," he said.

Copyright 2020 EarthFix. To see more, visit .

<p>The collapsed roof of the gym at the Highland Magnet at Kenwood School in the Bend-La Pine School District, Jan. 12, 2017</p>

Courtesy of the Bend Fire Department

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The collapsed roof of the gym at the Highland Magnet at Kenwood School in the Bend-La Pine School District, Jan. 12, 2017

<p>Snow covers the fields and the cows on Katherine Cory's farm in Troutdale on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Katherine Cory

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Snow covers the fields and the cows on Katherine Cory's farm in Troutdale on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>Sun sets over the Willamette River in Portland on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, after a brutal snowstorm earlier in the week.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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Sun sets over the Willamette River in Portland on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, after a brutal snowstorm earlier in the week.

<p>With Clackamas County schools closed for snow, students took the opportunity to enjoy the winter wonderland, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Ann McGarry

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With Clackamas County schools closed for snow, students took the opportunity to enjoy the winter wonderland, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>View from the Sellwood Bridge, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Kate Davidson

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View from the Sellwood Bridge, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>PGE worked through the morning and early afternoon to restore power to thousands of Clackamas County residents, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Ann McGarry

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PGE worked through the morning and early afternoon to restore power to thousands of Clackamas County residents, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>The winter storm&nbsp;transformed some of Portland's streets into slippery, snowy gridlock.&nbsp;</p>

Troy Dudash

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The winter storm transformed some of Portland's streets into slippery, snowy gridlock. 

<p>Southwest Portland</p>

Roxy De La Torre

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Southwest Portland

<p>The Oregon Zoo is closed due to the amount snow. Apparently the cheetahs didn't get the notice.&nbsp;</p>

Oregon Zoo

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The Oregon Zoo is closed due to the amount snow. Apparently the cheetahs didn't get the notice. 

<p>A view from downtown Portland.&nbsp;</p>

Troy Dudash

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A view from downtown Portland. 

<p>Khalleeah Sparks (right) pulls her god daughter, Mylai, in a makeshift sled with Glynnis Woods on their way to the grocery store.</p>

Conrad Wilson

 

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Khalleeah Sparks (right) pulls her god daughter, Mylai, in a makeshift sled with Glynnis Woods on their way to the grocery store.

<p>An park turns into a winter playground during Oregon's snowstorm.</p>

Roxy De La Torre

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An park turns into a winter playground during Oregon's snowstorm.

<p>Sami Christensen (left) and Maddee Rubenson made their way down Northeast Dekum Street in Portland in skis on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Conrad Wilson

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Sami Christensen (left) and Maddee Rubenson made their way down Northeast Dekum Street in Portland in skis on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>Jeff Brugato, with Pacific Coast Fruit&nbsp;Company, was making deliveries in Portland. He said many restaurants are either closed or opening late, and the roads have become more slippery throughout the day.</p>

Conrad Wilson

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Jeff Brugato, with Pacific Coast Fruit Company, was making deliveries in Portland. He said many restaurants are either closed or opening late, and the roads have become more slippery throughout the day.

<p>Raking snow off the roof in Bend.</p>
Martin Hofmann

 

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Raking snow off the roof in Bend.

<p>In Ontario, Oregon, Rob Haun helps plow a path to his business.&nbsp;</p>

Marcy Ozawa

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In Ontario, Oregon, Rob Haun helps plow a path to his business. 

<p><span class="contextualExtensionHighlight ms-font-color-themePrimary ms-border-color-themePrimary ident_69_337" tabindex="0">Sam Piva (in the navy bill cap with gold letters) drove his Honda S2000 up from Eugene Tuesday night,&nbsp;encountering little trouble on I-5 or I-205,&nbsp;and was a half block from his home when it got stuck&nbsp;in the snow-filled streets at the western base of Rocky Butte&nbsp;around</span>&nbsp;10:30 p.m. On&nbsp;Wednesday morning, carpenter Tracy Terry pitched in and&nbsp;tried to pull Piva's car out of the drift by hooking it to his truck but they couldn't dig it free and&nbsp;had to abandon it. Piva is a recent University of Oregon graduate who just started work as a graphic designer at the Hive&nbsp;agency on the inner East Side.&nbsp;</p>

Jo Mancuso

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Sam Piva (in the navy bill cap with gold letters) drove his Honda S2000 up from Eugene Tuesday night, encountering little trouble on I-5 or I-205, and was a half block from his home when it got stuck in the snow-filled streets at the western base of Rocky Butte around 10:30 p.m. On Wednesday morning, carpenter Tracy Terry pitched in and tried to pull Piva's car out of the drift by hooking it to his truck but they couldn't dig it free and had to abandon it. Piva is a recent University of Oregon graduate who just started work as a graphic designer at the Hive agency on the inner East Side. 

<p>Portland's downtown park blocks transformed by the snow.</p>

David Berg

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Portland's downtown park blocks transformed by the snow.

<p>Snow surrounds the Willamette in Portland.&nbsp;</p>

Roxy De La Torre

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Snow surrounds the Willamette in Portland. 

<p>A street in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood of Portland.</p>

Todd Witter

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A street in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood of Portland.

<p>Bikes locked up under inches of packed snow in Portland.</p>

Sage Van Wing

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Bikes locked up under inches of packed snow in Portland.

<p>Stuart Drive is a popular sledding spot on Alameda Ridge in Portland.&nbsp;</p>

Jeff Mapes

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Stuart Drive is a popular sledding spot on Alameda Ridge in Portland. 

<p>PGE worked through the morning and early afternoon to restore power to thousands of Clackamas County residents, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Ann McGarry

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PGE worked through the morning and early afternoon to restore power to thousands of Clackamas County residents, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>Snow removal trucks drive down Highway 99 in Milwaukie carrying buckets full of snow, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Ann McGarry

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Snow removal trucks drive down Highway 99 in Milwaukie carrying buckets full of snow, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>Safety tape marks off a downed power line in SE Portland, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Sage Van Wing

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Safety tape marks off a downed power line in SE Portland, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>Children take to the hills of Sabin during another snow day for Portland Public Schools, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Rob Manning

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Children take to the hills of Sabin during another snow day for Portland Public Schools, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>A large tree limb fell on the steps of the Central Library in downtown Portland, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Michelle McCoy

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A large tree limb fell on the steps of the Central Library in downtown Portland, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>TriMet works to fix a line in downtown Portland, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Roxy De La Torre

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TriMet works to fix a line in downtown Portland, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>The snow piles high in Bend&nbsp;where a man shovels his driveway.&nbsp;</p>

Nicole Sabatier

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The snow piles high in Bend where a man shovels his driveway. 

<p>Oregon State Police warns travelers that a traditionally busy section of Interstate 5 was "a parking lot."</p>

Oregon State Police 

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Oregon State Police warns travelers that a traditionally busy section of Interstate 5 was "a parking lot."

<p>A view of a snowy&nbsp;morning in Lake Oswego, Oregon.&nbsp;</p>

Ivy Augusta

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A view of a snowy morning in Lake Oswego, Oregon. 

<p>Reporter <a href="http://www.opb.org/contributor/jeff-mapes/" target="_blank">Jeff Mapes</a> measures the snow gathered on his deck railing in Southeast Portland.&nbsp;</p>

Jeff Mapes

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Reporter Jeff Mapes measures the snow gathered on his deck railing in Southeast Portland. 

<p>A scene from a neighborhood in Gresham, Oregon.&nbsp;</p>

Varittha Franko

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A scene from a neighborhood in Gresham, Oregon. 

<p>"Happy car. Happy Valley (Oregon)."&nbsp;</p>

Tonya Michelle

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"Happy car. Happy Valley (Oregon)." 

<p>Snowfall at the Portland International Airport.&nbsp;</p>

Steve Bass

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Snowfall at the Portland International Airport. 

<p>Walker Road in Portland.&nbsp;</p>

Nate Sjol

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Walker Road in Portland. 

<p>Willow McCormick celebrates the snowstorm.</p>

Chris Lael

 

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Willow McCormick celebrates the snowstorm.

<p>A scene from a snowed in Northwest Portland</p>

Jule Gilfillan

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A scene from a snowed in Northwest Portland

<p>A&nbsp;calm in the storm in Oak Grove, Oregon.&nbsp;</p>

Ed Jahn

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A calm in the storm in Oak Grove, Oregon. 

<p>The snowfalls on Tilikum Crossing.&nbsp;</p>

Christof Teuscher

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The snowfalls on Tilikum Crossing. 

<p>Snow continues to pile&nbsp;up on a trail along the Willamette River.&nbsp;</p>

Dave Miller

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Snow continues to pile up on a trail along the Willamette River. 

<p>Snow covers the fields and the cows on Katherine Cory's farm in Troutdale on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Katherine Cory

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Snow covers the fields and the cows on Katherine Cory's farm in Troutdale on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>The heavy snowfall left some side streets closed in Portland.&nbsp;</p>

Sarah Rothenfluch

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The heavy snowfall left some side streets closed in Portland. 

<p>The snow did not keep people from getting their coffee in Northeast&nbsp;Portland on Wednesday morning.</p>

Conrad Wilson

 

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The snow did not keep people from getting their coffee in Northeast Portland on Wednesday morning.

<p>People roll a giant snowball across Southeast 13th Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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People roll a giant snowball across Southeast 13th Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

<p>Cars drive through the intersection of Southeast 13th and Tacoma in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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Cars drive through the intersection of Southeast 13th and Tacoma in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

<p>Snow covers the sign for Thai Lahna restaurant on Southeast 13th Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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Snow covers the sign for Thai Lahna restaurant on Southeast 13th Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

<p>A bicyclist pulls into a New Seasons grocery store on Tacoma Street in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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A bicyclist pulls into a New Seasons grocery store on Tacoma Street in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

<p>A car drives north on Tacoma Street in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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A car drives north on Tacoma Street in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

<p>Snow pummeled the Portland area on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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Snow pummeled the Portland area on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

<p>Snow blanketed Portland streets, such as this one in the northeast part of the city, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Conrad Wilson

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Snow blanketed Portland streets, such as this one in the northeast part of the city, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>People wait for an Orange Line MAX train at the Southeast Bybee Boulevard station in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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People wait for an Orange Line MAX train at the Southeast Bybee Boulevard station in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>An Orange Line MAX train departs the Southeast Bybee Boulevard station toward Milwaukie in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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An Orange Line MAX train departs the Southeast Bybee Boulevard station toward Milwaukie in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>A bicyclist heads north on Milwaukie Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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A bicyclist heads north on Milwaukie Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>A fallen tree blocks the intersection of Lambert Street and Milwaukie Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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A fallen tree blocks the intersection of Lambert Street and Milwaukie Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>Many parts of Portland saw several inches of snowfall Tuesday night into Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, leaving side streets like Lambert Street in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood covered.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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Many parts of Portland saw several inches of snowfall Tuesday night into Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, leaving side streets like Lambert Street in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood covered.

<p>Fairlane Coffee was one of few businesses open Wednesday morning in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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Fairlane Coffee was one of few businesses open Wednesday morning in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Jan. 11, 2017.

<p>A man shovels the walk outside Northwest Primary Care on Milwaukie Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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A man shovels the walk outside Northwest Primary Care on Milwaukie Avenue in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood during a snow storm on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.

Bryan M. Vance, Conrad Wilson