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Rare, record-breaking snow falls in Portland, Oregon

By Judson Jones and Rachel Ramirez, CNN

The residents of Portland, Oregon, woke up to a rare April sight on Monday: a blanket of fresh, white snow.

It was the city’s first measurable snow in April since record keeping began more than 80 years ago, according to the National Weather Service. It’s also the latest snow on record there.

“In 82 years of record keeping, (Portland International Airport) had never recorded more than a trace of snow in April,” the weather service tweeted. “That ended today.”

One to 3 inches of snow fell around the city, according to local weather reports.

The late-season snowstorm has left nearly 100,000 people without power, including some that experienced sporadic shutoffs. The snow and gusty winds brought down trees and power lines across the greater Portland area, triggering a challenging morning commute for many and prompting school districts to delay or cancel classes.

Just last week, Portland had sunny, 70-degree weather.

Mid-April is typically the time when residents enjoy walks along the city’s waterfront, filled with cherry blossoms, and the annual Tulip Festival in Woodburn — about an hour south of the city. Now, those spring flowers are being weighed down by snow.

Over the past year, Portland has seen wild swings in weather. Last April was the driest on record for the city, followed by an unprecedented, multi-day heat wave in June. That heat wave, scientists later concluded, was “virtually impossible” without climate change. Hundreds of heat-related hospitalizations and deaths were reported during that heat wave, leading officials to call it a mass-casualty event.

Portland’s weather roller coaster could be an example of how the climate crisis can produce both hot and cold extremes — a form of “weather whiplash” that scientists say is becoming more common.

The snow and gusty winds that have brought down trees and power lines in Oregon are the first impacts of a potent storm system that will bring a variety of weather hazards to the West and Central US this week, including blizzards, severe weather and dangerous fire conditions.

“A long duration winter storm, producing significant snow and strong winds will impact portions of the northwestern to the north-central US through midweek,” the Weather Prediction Center said Monday morning.

Heavy snow and howling winds are expected to spread across the northern Rockies and Plains through Tuesday. Meanwhile, blizzard warnings are in effect over Montana and the Dakotas, where 12 to 24 inches of snow and 50-mph wind will make travel nearly impossible.

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