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Snow, ice storm disrupts area activities

Power outages and school closures reported

The three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday unexpectedly turned into a four-day weekend for students of the White Salmon Valley and Stevenson-Carson school districts.

Icy roads and power outages, respectively, led to cancellation of school and most related activities Tuesday in the neighboring areas.

Dale Palmer, superintendent of White Salmon schools, said icy roads on bus routes in higher-elevation areas triggered his decision to cancel Tuesday's classes at Whitson Elementary, Henkle Middle and Columbia High schools. A CHS boys basketball game at Stevenson was postponed also.

"We determined the roads weren't safe for the operation of buses," Palmer said. "Everyone's recommendation was to give it a day to warm up and try again tomorrow."

The missed day of school will be made up on Friday, Feb. 11 -- the first of two snow days that were built into the 2004-05 school calendar in the event of such a winter weather-related situation.

As an indication of how slippery road conditions were in the Bingen-White Salmon area Monday, local police dealt with a number of traffic calls regarding stuck vehicles and minor fender-benders.

Downriver in Skamania County, ice on roadways was just one of the problems area residents had to deal with Monday.

Stevenson-Carson Superintendent Jim Saltness said student safety in the absence of electricity was the primary reason he closed Stevenson elementary and high schools and Wind River Middle School in Carson. The district had announced Monday that classes would start two hours late; but that was before the lights went out.

Students in the Stevenson-Carson district will make up their missed school day on a previously scheduled snow day, Friday, March 18.

"Electricity in some of our buildings was questionable until late Tuesday morning," Saltness said.

Much of Skamania County suffered power outages Monday, mostly due to broken ice-encrusted tree branches and, in some cases, entire trees falling on and snapping power lines.

"It was like a war zone here. You could hear trees popping and dropping all night," Saltness noted Tuesday. "A deputy sheriff I talked to last night told me this is one of the worst ice storms he has seen in the county in the last 15 years in terms of breadth and damage."

Skamania County Public Utility District crews had restored service to most of Stevenson and Carson by early Tuesday morning but were still working in the Home Valley area to repair power lines serving about 500 customers who lost power at around 8 p.m. Monday.

Another 200 customers in the Carson area and 300 in the Stevenson area also were still without power Tuesday morning.

A Skamania PUD spokesman said Tuesday morning that line crews from Clark County PUD had joined the effort to repair downed power lines.

Moreover, Skamania County's emergency services department set up an emergency shelter at the Rock Creek Center in Stevenson to provide a warm place for affected residents to wait until the PUD turned the power back on.

Klickitat County PUD reported no power outages in its service sector, though ice loads on lines serving Trout Lake, Glenwood and the Acme Road area of Snowden had White Salmon branch manager Ron Schultz worried Monday.

"We've been very lucky," Schultz said Tuesday morning. "It looks like things are thawing out nicely."


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