Overnight snowfall covered the Umpqua Valley on Thursday morning, bringing school closures, fender benders, downed power lines and some much-needed snow in the higher elevations of Douglas County.

Most schools, including the Douglas ESD and most morning UCAN Head Start classes in the county closed today because of the snow. 

Law enforcement and tow truck drivers were kept busy during the morning hours, pulling vehicles out of ditches, and towing vehicles that had been involved in mostly minor accidents. A few minor power outages were reported around the county.

National Weather Service officials say most locations on the valley floor had about 2 inches of snow this morning and the snow was widespread all the way to the coast.

Meteorologist Charles Smith of the National Weather service in Medford said central Douglas County is in for its coldest night of the year Thursday night, with temperatures expected to drop into the low 20s Friday morning. 

"With all the fresh snow, it usually gets very cold after that, and when it clears out it's going to drop like a rock tonight," Smith said.

In anticipation of Thursday night's expected cold weather, the Warming Center at Faith Lutheran Church, 820 W. Kenwood St., Roseburg, for anybody affected by the cold.

The snow level is expected to stay low through the weekend, and the Umpqua Valley could see snow again on Sunday night. The cold weather, he said, will stay around for a while. 

"We're stuck in this cold pattern at least for the next week," Smith said. 

It's a little late in the season, but not that unusual to have snow in late February or even early March, according to Smith.

"The duration of the storm system is unusual, but in the past we've seen snow in the valleys in February before," Smith said. "It's just unusually cold."

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office reported a few minor accidents this morning, but no serious injuries.

Sgt. Brad O'Dell, spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, said tomorrow morning might be more of a challenge with temperatures well below freezing predicted. 

"Don't drive unless you have to, give extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you, and heed the basic rule, slow dowm if conditions warrant it," O'Dell said.

ODOT issued a statement warning drivers of chain restrictions on Interstate 5 over the passes in southern Oregon including Canyon Mountain buty those were lifted by mid-morning.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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