Snow, cold, wind and ice may conspire in the days ahead to create extremely hazardous traveling conditions throughout much of the state. Heavy snow in the Cascades, central and eastern Oregon are all possible over the next week starting today.
The National Weather Service is forecasting snowfall in the Hermiston area Monday through Thursday.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) wants travelers to think twice before trying to drive over mountain passes, which could get over a foot of snow this weekend. Don’t drive if winter conditions are too extreme.
If you do drive, use plenty of caution and observe a few common sense rules for navigating hazardous weather conditions:
- Get safely situated. Don’t wait until after a storm hits to get on the road. Get to your destination before conditions turn nasty and unsafe.
- Always drive according to conditions of the road. Slow down and allow extra time for travel, and extra room between you and other vehicles.
- Travel smart. Consider waiting until a storm passes to get on the road. Look out for each other. If you must drive, remember cyclists and pedestrians are harder to see in a storm.
- If you’re biking or walking remember cars don’t stop quickly on snow and ice.
- Check on any appointments you have before you leave. Offices and businesses may close due to the weather.
- Know before you go. Plan your route. Visit Tripcheck.com in advance to look at ODOT cameras and check conditions. Stay tuned to local radio station winter weather updates.
- Stay on main highways. Don’t blindly follow GPS navigations that could lead you onto a remote road not maintained in winter.
- Don’t abandon your vehicle. It prevents us from clearing the road and emergency services from getting to the people who need them.
- Carrying an emergency kit that includes water, food, blankets, flash light, first aid supplies, etc. Have a full tank of gas and charge your phone. You never know when severe weather, closures or crashes will cause long delays.
- Beware of outages. If a storm knocks out power to traffic signals, treat intersections like an all-way stop. The driver who stops first goes first.
- Watch for plows. ODOT sand trucks, plows and deicer trucks can’t clear roads clogged with traffic. The more traffic stays off the road, the quicker roads can be treated. Stay at least three car lengths back. Everybody benefits the sooner ODOT can get the road cleared.
- Wash your vehicle after driving along routes that may have been treated with salt. Salt is typically applied to I-84 and U.S. 95 in eastern Oregon, and some sections of I-5. Some secondary highways in eastern Oregon such as OR 11 may also receive salt applications. Salt application rates are kept at a minimum, typically about 200 pounds per lane mile.
In severe weather, ODOT deploys all available tools in its winter arsenal, including plows, sanders, graders, snow blowers, deicers and salt, as appropriate.
ODOT crews will be working 12-hour shifts around the clock. If conditions allow, crews will pre-treat roads with de-icer – magnesium chloride with rust inhibitor – as appropriate. Salt is also used on I-84, U.S. 95 and a few other routes in eastern Oregon.
Mountain passes are expected to receive heavy amounts of snow. Travelers should be prepared for extreme winter driving conditions by carrying chains and knowing how to use them.