Icy conditions on Interstate 84 were present when the driver of a pickup lost control on I-84 westbound near Milepost 258 near the Perry scales at about 4:45 p.m. Thursday. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Weather service estimates 4 to 8 more inches for La Grande before Sunday
Union and Wallowa county residents should be braced for another blast of winter weather this weekend after being hit with heavy snowfall overnight.
“We’ve got another one coming in today. It’s already started in Central Oregon,” said Diana Hayden, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Pendleton. “It’s possible you guys in La Grande could see snow Saturday night into Sunday. You guys will see most of your snow later this afternoon, through tonight and Saturday.”
Hayden said the Grande Ronde Valley could receive 4 to 8 inches of snow, most of it before Saturday night.
On Thursday, La Grande received 1-1/2 inches of snow, while the Blue Mountains north of Elgin received 5-1/2 inches and Wallowa County got about 4 inches of snow.
In Union County, snow and wind forced the closure of Ladd Canyon for a total of about five hours from late Thursday to early this morning.
“The wind created whiteout conditions,” said Tom Strandberg of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Ladd Canyon was first closed at 9:14 p.m. Thursday until 1:38 a.m. Friday when it was re-opened after the wind died down. Ladd Canyon was closed again at 1:58 a.m. after the wind picked up. The second closure remained in effect until 3:30 a.m. when the wind died down, improving visibility.
The closure extended from the Flying J Travel Plaza south of La Grande to North Powder. Strandberg said ODOT tries to set up closure points at places where drivers can easily get off the road, turn back or take an alternate route.
“We don’t want to have a lot of motorists stranded along a freeway or a highway,” Strandberg said.
In Umatilla County, Highway 204 was closed Friday from 7:47 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at a point two miles from its intersection with Highway 11 because of fallen trees. The eastbound lane of Highway 204 closed again at 9 a.m. after a vehicle slid off the road. This portion was still closed at press time.
Strandberg said ODOT crews will be working round the clock this weekend to keep roads passable.
“They are working 24/7, day and night,” Strandberg said.
He asked that drivers be patient.
“We can’t be at all areas at once,” Strandberg said.
He said that drivers should be prepared to drive on packed snow and ready for long delays in case a vehicle in front of them slides off the road and blocks traffic.
“They should be prepared for an emergency,” Strandberg said.
This means motorists should have water, food and plenty of gas. The fuel is important because it will allow drivers to run their heaters while waiting for roads to clear up.