April Fool's Day dawned with a snowy surprise over much of Central Oregon Tuesday morning, with an inch or two in the Bend area and several inches farther south, making for slick roads and some slideoffs and crashes.
The worst area, as is often the case, was north of Sunriver on Highway 97, where the northbound lanes were closed around 8 a.m. by an apparent non-injury crash involving two semi-trucks and several slideoffs were reported.
Both northbound lanes remained closed nearly an hour later near the Cottonwood Road ramps, with ODOT reporting no detour in place and urging drivers to avoid the area and "delay travel plans if possible."
Minutes later, ODOT said the northbound slow (right) lane was to reopen, with motorists to follow a sanding truck. The road was completely open again by about 9:30 a.m.
But then came word from Oregon State Police of several minor crashes due to snowy, icy conditions on Hwy. 20 in eastern Deschutes and Harney counties.
One lane of Hwy. 20 reopened late Tuesday morning at milepost 118 in Harney County (23 miles west of Burns) after an earlier crash. ODOT officials warned to expect delays and also to expect snow and winter conditions in southern parts of Central and Eastern Oregon.
Deschutes County sheriff's deputies reported no injuries from Tuesday morning's incidents.
NewsChannel 21 Chief Meteorologist Bob Shaw told our Facebook friends that the "snows came in quite a bit heavier than expected" and continued to fall into the mid-morning hour, with driving "increasingly treacherous. ... Take your time and be safe everyone!"
The National Weather Service in Pendleton at first issued a winter weather advisory for 3-5 inches of snow over eastern portions of the area, but it was expanded west Tuesday morning to include the rest of the High Desert, with 1-3 inches predicted mainly above 3,000 feet.
In La Pine and Sunriver, some residents reported 4-5 inches of snow, while in the Bend area, where there was at least an inch or two in many locations, a bit more in others.
Temperatures were expected to warm and turn the snow to rain at lower elevations during the day, but the snow hung on for much of the day.