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Winter weather, illness plagues Capitol complex

Cold weather, snow and flu-like illness dampen spirits around capital city.

Last Friday was the first day of meteorological spring. But it looks like someone forgot to tell the capital city.

Salem was surprised Wednesday by showers of snow and sleet. It wasn't cold enough for the icy precipitation to stick around, but as remarkably heavy snow fell on the Capitol complex, one was reminded that while the scientific community says spring and March start at the same time, the good old Gregorian calendar tells us the spring equinox isn't actually until March 20.

Need further proof that it's still winter in Salem? Apparently, flu season isn't quite done yet.

Several state legislators missed Monday's floor session with what one staffer described as a particularly bad flu. Among them were state Sens. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, and Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego.

It wasn't the flu that sickened the president of the Senate, though. Salem Sen. Peter Courtney's office said Tuesday that Courtney was taking a medical leave of absence at the advice of his doctors, apparently after a "flare-up" of symptoms thought to be related to Graves' disease.

Courtney announced he had Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause eye inflammation and fatigue, in 2014. The condition is treatable, but unlike the flu, it is a chronic illness that has to be managed over time.