Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

A Sunday evening snowstorm of surprising intensity woke Baker City’s snowplows from their winter-long slumber and gave Baker students a rare snow day.

Light snow fell occasionally during the day but it didn’t stick.

That changed around 6 p.m. Snow fell heavily for the next four hours or so.

About eight inches accumulated during that period, adding to the three to four inches from Saturday morning’s storm.

At midnight crews from the Baker City Public Works Department, which hadn’t plowed streets this winter (they have spread sand and salt several times), started plowing and piling snow on heavily traveled routes.

Baker School District officials announced about 5:30 a.m. that classes would be canceled for the first time this winter. The district office was open today.

Parents were notified of the closure through the District’s BlackBoard Connect mass notification system, which includes text messages and automated phone calls.

Last winter, which was the snowiest here in more than 20 years, classes were canceled on four days.

Superintendent Mark Witty said members of the District’s transportation department began checking the roads about midnight.

“We felt it was going to be difficult to get the buses in town and out,” Witty said this morning. “At the end of the day, we have to lean a little bit toward the ones actually doing the driving.”

After conferring with bus drivers and considering student safety, school was canceled.

Witty said based on the forecast for dry weather today and Tuesday, he expects just a one-day closure.

“I’m absolutely anticipating having school tomorrow,” he said. “If we believe we can do it safely, we’re going to do it.”

That it snowed Sunday wasn’t a surprise.

The National Weather Service had issued a winter weather advisory for Baker County on Sunday, but the agency predicted only about two inches of snow for Baker City.

Sunday’s storm was the latest in a series that has made the second half of February vastly different from the first half, which was much warmer than usual.

The Weather Service expects the wintry pattern will continue for at least the next week. The next storm is forecast to arrive Wednesday afternoon and continue into Wednesday, bringing the potential for two to five inches of snow. Daytime temperatures should remain in the 30s at least through Sunday, with overnight lows mainly in the teens and 20s.

Chris Collins of the Baker City Herald contributed to this story.