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Major snowstorm expected to hit Oregon’s mountain passes, including along I-5

An ODOT plow clears snow on I-5 in the Siskiyous. File photo.
An ODOT plow clears snow on I-5 in the Siskiyous. File photo.

The first major snowstorm of the winter is expected to impact travel on Oregon’s mountain passes. The affected roads include most routes that cross the Cascades, as well as Interstate 5 heading into California.

ODOT says crews will be out in force along the main highways, but it might take a bit longer than usual for snowplows to clear secondary roads.

“It’s not that we’re going to be not plowing them, it’s just that drivers may see only lane open, or after weather events they might be covered in snow and ice longer than people are expecting, because we do have staffing shortages,” said ODOT spokesperson Matt Noble.

The National Weather Service predicts more than two feet of snow will fall this weekend on Santiam Pass and Willamette Pass. The Interstate 5 corridor south of Ashland could get at least a foot of snow.

Regardless of where you're headed, Noble said the usual guidelines for winter travel still apply: It's a good idea to make sure you have hats, gloves and blankets in the car in case of a breakdown or unexpected delay. Also, "carrying chains in your vehicle and knowing how to install them is also key," he said.

Oregon drivers can check ODOT's website, tripcheck.com, for road condition updates and to view traffic cameras.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”