Heavy snow and potential flooding continue to complicate travel in Oregon
Heavy snow continued to complicate travel in parts of Oregon Wednesday. Several state highways in the Cascades region near Crater Lake remained reopened Wednesday afternoon after a 41 hour closure. The Oregon Department of Transportation says drivers should continue to watch for crews and equipment in the area. The highways include state routes 62, 138 and 230.
Highway 20 over Santiam Pass was shut down much of Wednesday morning, causing Hoodoo Ski Area to close for the day. By mid-day, the pass had reopened to traffic.
In eastern Oregon, long sections of Interstate 84 were closed due to heavy snow and multiple crashes, as was US highway 395 south of Pendleton.
And if the snow wasn’t enough, the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for most of western Oregon on Thursday and Friday.
“It’s really critical that we be careful everywhere around the state,” said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesperson Don Hamilton. “We’ve got the potential for high water on the roads. We’ve got the potential for snowy roads. We’ve got a lot of reasons to be really careful out there on the highways.”
Drivers can check road conditions in advance by visiting ODOT’s website, tripcheck.com
Hamilton said it’s a good idea to pack emergency supplies even for short trips. Hundreds of drivers spent hours stranded on a major interstate highway just outside the nation’s capital during a snowstorm earlier this week, so even urban roadways can be problematic if conditions deteriorate. So far this winter, the most populated sections of Oregon have not seen major snowfall.
Still, the forecast calls for more snow in the Cascades later this week. And that will put even more stress on ODOT’s team of snow plow drivers. The agency warned in the fall that staffing shortages could mean it will take longer to clear some highways after major snow storms.
“Staffing is having an impact,” said Hamilton. “Our crews are working longer hours. They’re working more days in a row, and they’re being called in on their off days, too. We’re getting to things as quickly as we can.”
There was some good news for people who lost their power during Sunday’s windstorm. Lane Election said Wednesday that it had restored all storm-related outages. And Central Lincoln PUD, which had more than 7,000 customers without power in the immediate aftermath of the storm, said fewer than 600 customers remained in the dark by mid-day Wednesday.