A perfect storm of cold weather hit Clark County last week, resulting in some of the latest snowfall ever recorded in lower elevations.
On Monday, April 11, Clark County residents saw “somewhat unseasonably cold temperatures,” David Bishop, a meteorologist with Portland’s National Weather Service office, told The Reflector. A cold air mass along with a low pressure system led to heavy, wet snow in the area.
Lower elevations in the Portland metro area received between 2 to 4 inches of snow, while higher elevations received more, Bishop said. The NWS reported Ridgefield received about 6.5 inches.
Although it isn’t uncommon to see snow at higher elevations this time of year, Bishop said it is “very rare” to see snow that reaches the Columbia River valley floor.
Last week’s snow was the latest in the year to result in accumulation.
The Portland International Airport received a measurable amount of snow in April for the first time since records have been kept, dating back to 1940, Bishop said.
Bishop said the snow accounted for the second-highest snowfall ever recorded in April when looking at records for downtown Portland that date as far back as 1874.
In the days following the snowfall, Bishop said the weather produced a convective environment, which led to showers, thunderstorms and hail across the region. Though hail is fairly common, Bishop said thunderstorms are typically a rarer occurrence in the region.
“It does happen, but it is not as prevalent as it is if you go east of the Cascades,” Bishop said about the thunderstorms.
The weather that hit early last week led to utility issues across Clark County. At one point, Clark Public Utilities reported more than 26,000 of its electricity customers were without power and 129 outages were recorded.
The majority of outages were restored within a few hours, CPU spokesperson Dameon Pesanti told The Reflector. Pesanti said the longer outages in the north part of the county were restored by the evening of April 12.
Damage from the weather was fairly widespread, as power poles snapped and trees dropped limbs. CPU had more than 150 personnel responding to utility issues because of the weather, Pesanti said.
In future weather events, Pesanti said people in Clark County should not call 911 to report power outages, unless there are imminent safety hazards or an injury.
“Those calls interfere with the reporting of actual emergencies and 911 dispatchers cannot forward outage information to us at the utility,” Pesanti said in an email.
Future outages can be reported online at clarkpublicutilities.com or at 360-992-8000.
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