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Originally published February 8, 2014 at 8:15 AM | Page modified February 9, 2014 at 3:32 AM

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Snow returns to Northwest for 3rd consecutive day

The last installment in a trilogy of Northwest storms caused scattered power outages Saturday, and there were expectations of more to come as the snow turned to freezing rain and ice for a wide swath of Oregon.

Associated Press

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The last installment in a trilogy of Northwest storms caused scattered power outages Saturday, and there were expectations of more to come as the snow turned to freezing rain and ice for a wide swath of Oregon.

The National Weather Service said Portland received 2 inches of snow before it changed to sleet around sunset, and it forecast a half-inch of ice accumulation by Sunday morning. Elsewhere Saturday, freezing rain fell from the wine country southwest of Portland to the lower Willamette Valley south of Eugene, triggering an ice-storm warning that stretched for more than 100 miles.

"Snow is bad. But ice is worse," said Miles Higa, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

More than 3,000 people in the Portland region were without power Saturday morning, but almost all had lights before noon. The number edged back up to more than 400 by 6 p.m. and was expected to rise as it becomes icier late Saturday.

Farther south, the Statesman Journal reported power outages Saturday near Silverton and Mt. Angel. And downed trees caused widespread outages in the rural communities near Eugene, according to The Register-Guard newspaper. The Springfield Utility Board, meanwhile, said 2,000 customers lost power, primarily in downtown and east Springfield.

The snow began swirling in Portland shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday, falling on top of streets and sidewalks packed with snow from storms that struck Thursday and Friday. Despite its northern location on the U.S. map, Portland sometimes goes an entire winter without snow, and residents and businesses were not prepared to shovel.

The transition to freezing rain was likely to make the roads extra treacherous and the sidewalks more slippery.

"The (Monday) morning commute could be a little sketchy," Higa said.

The Oregon State Police said troopers statewide have responded to about 600 weather-related crashes since Thursday morning. The only fatality occurred Friday afternoon, when ice caused a man to lose control of his vehicle on Interstate 84 near Rooster Rock State Park and crash into a tree, killing his passenger -- a 37-year-old Portland woman.

Troopers have also responded to about 900 motorists who needed assistance because of the conditions, Lt. Steve Mitchell said.

Police and public officials have urged people not to drive, and that message was heeded by most as many streets were empty Saturday.

Residents also had fewer reasons to leave home as the Oregon Zoo, Portland Art Museum, Multnomah County Library and many shops were closed.

For bicyclists, the weather even doomed the annual "Worst Day of the Year Ride" scheduled for this weekend. Organizers had hoped to stage a 15-mile ride through downtown after announcing Thursday that its more challenging 46-mile event through the hills of west Portland was canceled for safety reasons.

"Alas, Mother Nature wins this round," organizers announced on the event's website Saturday.

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