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No walk in the park

With the most snow since 1968, Oswegans make the best of challenging conditions
by: NICOLE DECOSTA AND J. BRIAN MONIHAN, 

Kevin and Shauna Flanigan of Dunthorpe ski through downtown Lake Oswego on their way to Tryon Creek Park on Monday.

The winter storm that has paralyzed the Portland area entered its second week with heavy snow beginning Dec. 19 at about 7 a.m.

Meteorologists say this year's snowfall could surpass some past storms in 2004, 1998 and 1993. Only a storm in 1980 dumped more snow, about 11 inches, on the region.

Law enforcement and transportation officials urged travelers to leave their cars at home and take mass transit whenever possible as snow and ice shut down roads throughout the region. Conditions were so severe, however, that many bus routes and MAX light-rail lines were closed by Dec. 22.

TriMet issued a warning saying its service would be curtailed in some areas. The transit system ran only frequent-service bus lines on roads already cleared by snowplows and crews.

In Lake Oswego, only a single TriMet bus continued to operate, carrying passengers between Portland and West Linn through Lake Oswego's downtown area. Bus service was canceled on all other routes, including South Shore Boulevard (Route 36), in Lake Grove (Route 37) and on Boones Ferry Road and Kruse Way (Route 38). On the city's fringes, bus service to Lewis and Clark College (Route 39) was also canceled, as well as bus service through the Stafford area (Route 76).

Across the region, much of the usual holiday bustle stood still.

Amtrak service between Eugene and Seattle was suspended and 157 flights out of Portland International Airport were canceled by Monday. Many places had snowdrifts more than eight feet high and Interstate 84 was closed between Troutdale and Hood River. Chains were required on state highways in Portland.

In Lake Oswego, Portland General Electric responded to scattered power outages, including one in the Lake Grove area that prompted multiple false alarms to the Lake Oswego Fire Department.

Gert Zoutendijk, spokesman for the department, said most emergencies were related to downed power lines and fallen trees. He said a large area of homes was without power along Jean Road on Sunday.

A power outage sparked a fire at 1491 Koawood Drive after a heat lamp for a reptile cage powered on during the night and ignited a wooden floor. The homeowners had left the home but a neighbor heard an alarm and summoned firefighters just as flames began to reach a wall.

'They were really fortunate. They'll need to replace some flooring and do a little bit of wiring and put some sheetrock back up but overall it was minor damage,' said Zoutendijk.

In spite of the power outages and downed trees, he said Lake Oswego was relatively quiet while residents mostly waited out the storm. People keen on exploring the snow were out walking with pets and children.

'Some of these streets that are closed and have kind of a hill to them, kids have been sledding and enjoying themselves,' said Zoutendijk.

While the town stayed chilly, city business also froze. City Hall was closed Monday, along with the Adult Community Center, West End Building, library and the tennis center. A city council meeting scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. was postponed.

Allied Waste Services also suspended garbage and recycling pick up.

City officials posted periodic updates on the Citizen Information Line at 503-635-0257.