East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, January 04, 2018, Page Page 8A, Image 8

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    Page 8A
East Oregonian
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Storm slaps coastal South with most snow in decades FLU: Contributes
brutal winter storm smacked the
coastal Southeast with a rare
blast of snow and ice Wednesday,
hitting parts of Florida, Georgia
and South Carolina with their
heaviest snowfall in nearly three
Forecasters warned that
the same system could soon
strengthen into a “bomb cyclone”
as it rolls up the East Coast,
bringing hurricane-force winds,
coastal flooding and up to a foot
of snow.
At least 17 deaths were
blamed on dangerously cold
temperatures that for days have
gripped wide swaths of the U.S.
from Texas to New England.
A winter storm warning
extended from the Gulf Coast
of Florida’s “Big Bend” region
all the way up the Atlantic coast.
Forecasters said hurricane-force
winds blowing offshore on
Thursday could generate 24-foot
Schools in the Southeast
called off classes just months
after being shut down because
of hurricane threats, and police
urged drivers to stay off the roads
in a region little accustomed to
the kind of winter woes common
to the Northeast.
In Savannah, snow blanketed
the city’s lush downtown squares
and collected on branches of
burly oaks for the first time
in nearly eight years. William
Shaw, a Savannah native, used
baby steps to shuffle along a
frozen road from his home to the
post office.
“It almost seems the town is
deserted just like in the last hurri-
cane,” said Shaw, 65. “There’s no
one on the street. It’s got a little
eerie feeling.”
Dump trucks spread sand on
major streets in Savannah ahead
of the storm and police closed
several bridges, overpasses and
a major causeway because of ice.
By the time the morning’s
dreary sleet and rain turned to
fluffy snow, Savannah came out
to play. Families with children
flocked to Forsyth Park near the
downtown historic district for
snowball fights. The National
to 36,000 deaths in
the U.S. each year
Continued from 1A
AP Photo/David Goldman
Alora Freeman watches as ice builds along a downtown water fountain in Atlanta, Wednesday.
AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton
Seeing her first winter weather, 9-month-old Roxie eats
snow off the ground of the public basketball courts at
Forsyth Park, Wednesday in Savannah, Ga.
Weather Service recorded 1.2
inches of snow — Savannah’s
first measurable snowfall since
February 2010 and the first that
exceeded an inch in 28 years.
Across the Georgia-South
Carolina line in Charleston, the
weather service reported 5 inches
as the snow was winding down at
5 p.m. That’s the most snowfall
in Charleston since December
1989, and plenty for Chris
Monoc’s sons, ages 4 and 2, to go
sledding outside their home near
the city’s iconic Ravenel Bridge.
Airports shut down in
elsewhere as airlines cancelled
500 flights Wednesday, and at
least 1,700 more were cancelled
Thursday. Interstate 95 was nearly
an icy parking lot for almost all of
its 200 miles in South Carolina.
Troopers couldn’t keep up with
the number of reported wrecks
which numbered in the hundreds.
In Tallahassee, Florida, Mich-
igan transplant Laura Donaven
built a snowman 6 inches tall.
The city tweeted that snow fell
there for the first time in 28 years.
“I made a snowball and threw
it at my dad,” said Donaven, a
41-year-old hair salon owner.
The weather service said the
winter storm will probably inten-
sify into a “bomb cyclone” that
could dump more than 8 inches
of snow on the Boston area on
Thursday and at least half a foot
of snow in the New York City
Meteorologists have been
using the term “bomb” for storms
for decades, but the phrase
went viral on social media on
Wednesday. A storm is a bomb
— or bombogensis happens
— when it drops 24 millibars
of pressure in 24 hours. This
storm looks like it will intensify
twice that rate, said Bob Oravec,
lead forecaster at the National
Weather Service’s Weather
Prediction Center.
SNOW: Permit required for parking in an Oregon sno-park
Continued from 1A
Still, despite the low snow
year, there are options for recre-
ation. Here are a few of them, and
advice on where to go depending
on your favorite winter hobby.
Mt. Emily
Located six miles east of
Meacham off Interstate 84, the
Meacham Divide/Mt. Emily
sno-park offers some of the best
public, groomed cross country
ski trails in the state.
The Blue Mountain Nordic
Club, which is made up of dozens
of club members from both sides
of the mountain, man the ski
trails and also plow about 1.7
miles of the Summit Road from
the interstate to the sno-park. The
north side of the park is a lot that
connects to nordic skiing trails,
while the south side consists of
a lot for snowmobilers. Many of
them ride farther down the rest of
the unplowed summit road to the
trail of their choice.
Bruce Johnson, trails coor-
dinator for the nordic club, said
they groom the ski trails after
major snowstorms, which unfor-
tunately have not arrived since
“It’s pretty slippery up there
right now,” he said. “Pretty hard-
pack. The tracks are still pretty
fast, downhills in particular.”
Still, the trails are the closest
and easiest for nordic skiers in
Pendleton and much of Umatilla
welcome on the non-motorized
rails as well, but they are asked to
not walk on the groomed portion.
A donation box is located
at the entrance to the trails,
which helps defray the costs of
grooming and plowing.
“We groom as long as we have
money to do it,” said Johnson.
“Every bit helps.”
Tollgate area
snowmobile parks
Along Highway 204, which
connects Weston and Elgin, there
are multiple snowmobile-centric
sno-parks. Each offers a place to
park off-highway and access to
numerous trails and consistent
Morning Creek, Langdon
Lake, Milepost 20, Milepost 22
(across from Spout Springs) and
Milepost 27 are sno-parks that
cater almost exclusively to snow-
mobiling. Places like Woodland,
a campground located between
Milepost 22 and Andies Prairie,
offers access to snowmobiles as
well as cross country ski trails.
The Langdon Lake park,
little more than a parking lot
located on the private-lake side
medical officer, said the Pendleton Family
Medicine waiting room is rarely empty.
“We’re seeing a big uptick in respiratory
infections earlier than we usually do,”
Hitzman said. “Usually we see the big
uptick in February or March. This started
before Christmas and we’re not through it
The influenza vaccine isn’t particularly
effective this season because of mutation
in the flu strain that is circulating. Thomas
recommends getting a flu shot anyway.
She referenced a study by the American
Academy of Pediatrics that suggests that
getting vaccinated reduces a child’s risk of
dying from the flu. For adults, getting a flu
shot could also mean a milder case.
“It’s almost never too late,” Thomas said.
“People should drop what they’re doing and
go get a flu shot.”
Umatilla County Public Health Director
James Setzer, who is trained as an epidemi-
ologist, isn’t yet alarmed about flu numbers.
“We’re ahead of last year in terms of
numbers of cases, but they aren’t very
different from projections,” Setzer said.
“While we’re having high activity, it’s not
unexpectedly high in Umatilla County.
We’re not in a panic or high-alert mode.”
Oregon doesn’t report adult flu-related
deaths, but Washington has confirmed 20 so
far this season. OHA spokesman Jonathan
Modie said Oregon doesn’t monitor adult
flu-related fatalities because adults often die
of multiple causes such as pneumonia and
heart failure.
“Flu might have been a contributing
factor, but it’s difficult to track,” Modie said.
Oregon does track pediatric deaths. So
far this season, no children have died from
The CDC reports that flu contributes to
an estimated 36,000 deaths in the U.S. each
year. About 200,000 people land in hospi-
tals. At highest risk are children under the
age of 5, adults 65 years or older, pregnant
women and those with medical conditions
such as asthma, heart or lung disease, or a
weakened immune system.
Oregon and 20 other states are expe-
riencing high influenza activity. Others
are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Cali-
fornia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri,
Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Okla-
homa, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas
and West Virginia. Widespread influenza
(an indicator of geographic range rather
than intensity) was reported in 36 states,
including Oregon.
Flu season will likely take a couple more
months to wind down. In the meantime,
Hitzman said, “I encourage people who
are sick to stay home and drink plenty of
Contact Kathy Aney at kaney@eastore-
gonian.com or 941-966-0810.
DEQ: More than
100 vacant positions
at the agency
Continued from 1A
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Sledders gather around a fire pit at the sno-park in Andies Prairie on Monday east of Tollgate.
of Highway 204, is one of the
most-used. Its location allows
riders direct access to closed
Skyline Road that runs all the
way to Jubilee Lake, as well as
the ability to explore numerous
routes down Forest Service
Roads and into the forest itself.
The Tollgate Trail Finders
Snowmobile Club grooms many
trails in the area, participates in
search and rescue operations,
hosts events and disseminates
trail reports. Check out their
latest information at: http://
Spout Springs
Since it opened in 1956,
winter recreation in the Tollgate
area has been centered around
Spout Springs downhill ski area.
But since the ski area has closed
once again for the season, the
area is now home to recreation-
alists other than downhill skiers.
According to the Forest
Service, snowmobilers are not
allowed within the ski area
boundary, which is open to the
public only for non-motorized
use. Backcountry skiers and
snowshoers have taken to the
hill’s wide, cleared runs despite
the lack of a ski lift.
Andies Prairie
One of the most well-used
sno-parks in the region, Andies
Prairie offers a little bit of every-
A bowl-shaped hill within
walking distance of the parking
lot is a favorite of parents and
their children, who sled and
slide down its snowy banks.
Still, the area is deceptively
steep in spots — parents should
always keep a watchful eye on
their young ones.
Snowmobiles have access
to their own routes, and snow-
shoers and cross county skiers
can trundle through the snow
to find some peace and quiet.
The area is a favorite for folks
looking for an easy place to
harvest their own Christmas tree,
with a permit of course.
Across the road is the excel-
lent Horseshoe Prairie Road
sno-park, which is open only to
non-motorized travel, especially
nordic skiing. A wide variety of
tracks are offered of differing
skill levels.
One of the benefits of Andies
Prairie is its easy access. A paved
parking lot connects directly to
Highway 204, meaning there
is no risk of getting stuck on
snow-covered gravel roads.
While four-wheel drive, good
tires and a high-clearance
vehicle are critical to accessing
some of the parks, Andies is
open to just about everyone who
can get themselves up Weston
Four Corners
Located 20 miles east of
Ukiah off Oregon Highway 244,
Four Corners offers excellent
off-trail snowmobile riding.
The open area features no
marked or groomed trails, but is
a favorite for riders who want to
cut their own path through the
Farther afield, well-used
sno-parks in the region include
downhill ski and snowboard
areas like Anthony Lakes and
Ferguson Ridge (which are also
bases for snowmobilers). Cath-
erine Creek on the Wallowa-
Whitman National Forest is
a favorite for snowmobilers,
and it also includes a de facto
sledding center within walking
distance. The Salt Creek
Summit southeast of Joseph
in Wallowa County is often
filled with a variety of winter
enthusiasts, from snowmobilers
to backcountry skiers and snow-
A sno-park permit is required
for parking in an Oregon
sno-park between Nov. 1 and
April 30. The money raised
by permit sales pay for snow
removal services at the parks,
and the entire program is
An annual permit costs $25, a
3-day version costs $9 and a daily
pass is $4. Last year, the Oregon
Department of Transportation
sold 65,287 annual permits, and
the five-year average for 1-day
permits is about 83,000 per year.
Morrison, maintenance services
coordinator, the number of snow
park permits sold in a given year
often depends on the amount
of snow the state receives, how
widespread, and how early in
the season snows arrive.
Display them on the lower
left corner of your vehicle’s
windshield. The permits are sold
at all DMV offices, sporting
goods stores and other retail
severe negative health effects, and have
been found to cause cancer, lung disease,
respiratory illness, birth defects and devel-
opmental disorders, according to the Secre-
tary of State’s audit released Wednesday.
The delays also “frustrate” the business
community and put the agency’s credibility
in danger, auditors said.
Auditors said many factors slow down
the permitting process, including more than
100 vacant positions at the agency, lack of
succession planning, guidance and support
for employees, and a “poorly documented
and inconsistent” permit process.
Additionally, Cleaner Air Oregon, a
recent project of the governor to use health-
based standards to reduce air toxins, has
required additional work that reduces the
amount of time regulators have to issue
permits and do compliance inspections.
DEQ Director Richard Whitman said in
a response to the audit that he agrees with
auditors’ recommendations and the agency
is working to put them into action.
The issue of air pollution has been a topic
of interest in the Portland area recently, in
the wake of a scandal around elevated levels
of toxins detected near Bullseye Glass Co.’s
stained-glass factory in Southeast Portland.
The latest development in the saga is
Bullseye’s $30 million lawsuit against Gov.
Kate Brown and the DEQ, alleging that state
government unfairly targeted the company
after the U.S. Forest Service found elevated
lead levels in moss near the factory in 2015.
While Oregon has a reputation as a
sylvan wonderland, the state has the highest
ranking of all U.S. states for non-cancer
health risks caused by “hazardous air pollut-
ants,” according to the National Air Toxic
That assessment is cited in the audit,
although auditors noted that the “overall
quality of data submitted by states varies”
in the assessment, and that the EPA indi-
cates that the results should be interpreted
According to that same assessment,
Oregon’s cancer risk is 24th out of U.S.
states; Multnomah County ranks third for
non-cancer hazards and 56th for cancer risk
out of all U.S. counties.
The Capital Bureau is a collaboration
between EO Media Group and Pamplin
Media Group.