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Snow, freezing rain blanket much of Northwest, hazardous roads claim another life

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PORTLAND, Ore. - The second day of a fierce winter storm blanketed parts of the Northwest with another half foot of snow Friday as icy conditions made highways treacherous and claimed another life.

New snow totals by Friday evening ranged from 9 inches in western Oregon's Willamette Valley at Corvallis to 2 inches in Portland and an inch in Vancouver, Wash. Corvallis, home to Oregon State University, has gotten 18 inches of snow in two days.

Forecasters extended a winter storm warning for freezing rain, sleet and snow to Saturday night for much of the Willamette Valley.

In the Portland area and southwest Washington, the snowfall was expected to decrease by Saturday morning before another snow surge arrives later in the day.

A female passenger was killed Friday in a single-vehicle crash on icy Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon State Police said.

One person died Thursday in an Interstate 5 pileup in southwest Washington.

Two children playing on what they thought was a frozen pond in the east Portland suburb of Troutdale fell through the ice and were rescued Friday by their mother, who went in after them and also fell through the ice. A fire official said the boys were about 8 and 10.

The children were submerged up to their necks in the pond, said Robin Franzen Parker, a spokesperson for the nearby city of Gresham.

Willamette Valley cities took the brunt of Friday's snowfall. Eugene got 7 more inches, Albany got 6 and the state capital of Salem got 4 1/2.

Freezing rain was reported Friday night in portions of the valley. State police warned of hazardous driving on Interstate 5 between Salem and Eugene.

Salem police declared that drivers were required to have chains or traction tires until midnight Saturday. Some city streets were impassable because of stranded, abandoned cars, they said.

Many Northwest residents took a snow day Friday and stayed home.

In downtown Portland, streets coated with a thin layer of packed snow were nearly traffic-free before the first flurries fell in the afternoon. Shops closed early or didn't open at all, office buildings generally packed with workers were quiet, and the city government was closed to all but essential personnel.

The first storm dropped more than a foot of snow on parts of the Northwest.

Portland International Airport reported 45 flights cancelled by Friday night — a mixture of arrivals and departures — but said most flights were expected to continue. The airport averages about 500 flights daily.

The storms socked a region more accustomed to rain than snow, leading organizers of several events to scrap or postpone their plans.

In bike-passionate Portland, organizers of the annual "Worst Day of the Year Ride" were going ahead with this weekend's 15-mile ride through downtown. A more challenging 46-mile ride through the hilly west side was cancelled.

Also postponed were "Polar Bear Plunges" scheduled for Saturday in Corvallis, Eugene and Portland. The annual events send swimmers into cold winter water to benefit Special Olympics.

Team recruitment manager Lindsey Warner said travel conditions, a shuttle bus cancellation and the inability to set up changing tents because of the storms led to the decision.

"It's the Polar Plunge; we're not scared of the cold," Warner said.

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