A rare snowstorm dropped nearly half a foot of snow on some parts of the South Coast this morning, leaving thousands without power and making roads impassable.
Long-time residents say today’s storm brought the first significant amount of snow to the area since 1969.
“Second time in 31 years,” said Christine Widdifield of North Bend. “Crazy.”
“I have been here my whole life, and I agree with Christine,” said Robert Hamilton Jr. of Coos Bay. “Second good snow since ’69.”
More than 3 inches of the heavy, wet snow felled trees and power lines, causing headaches for Pacific Power. About 1 a.m., more than 7,000 customers were without power in the Coos Bay, North Bend and Bandon areas.
By 3 a.m., the utility was reporting that 11,000 customers were without power, mostly in pockets scattered across southwestern Oregon.
"We weren't prepared for this at all, and we have a 2-year-old," Kimberly Humbert of Coos Bay said. "We are cold out here and no power.”
Crews worked quickly to restore power, which went off and on faster than some could post about it on Facebook.
Asked if anyone lost power, Erin Thomsen Feddersen of Coos Bay replied: “I did, and I live by The World. Oh wait, it just came back on.”
The power couldn’t come on quickly enough for Jennifer Hermann Trosper’s son.
“Woke up to an upset 3-year-old because his nightlight and music was not on,” she said. “He just turned 3 and doesn’t understand that we have no control over this. Had to throw some extra blankets on him, too. Brrr!”
She woke up at 3 a.m. and her phone’s battery had depleted to 88 percent.
“I guess that means power had been out for awhile,” said Trosper, who lives near Broadway in North Bend.
Roads were largely impassable, with accidents reported across the region. Even well-traveled roads, like Commercial Avenue downtown, were unplowed and slick.
The snow capped a storm that on Monday brought wind gusts of more than 50 mph and heavy rain.
It was unclear if the weather played a role in a fire that apparently started near a power generator at South Coast Education Service District’s building on Teakwood Avenue. Firefighters spent more than two hours battling the blaze.
Monday night, United Airlines’ last flight of the day from San Francisco to Southwest Oregon Regional Airport was diverted to Portland. Passengers spent the night at the airport and were told they would be flown to North Bend later this morning.
The airline was reporting its first flight of the day from North Bend — the 8:47 a.m. departure from San Francisco — would leave on time. The airport has de-icing equipment.