Home News Local News WINTERLIKE BLAST SLAMS REGION
WINTERLIKE BLAST SLAMS REGION
By Alice Perry Linker
Observer Staff Writer
The highways are open, the traffic is moving, and most Union County schools opened on time this morning.
The high winds that started Tuesday night began to die down late Wednesday after a day of reaching gusts nearing 50 mph, and the driving snow ended. But until Interstate 84 opened at 3:30 a.m. today, semi tractor trailers lined Highway 82 and filled a shopping center parking lot while they waited. I-84 from Ontario to Pendleton closed about 9 a.m. Wednesday because of blizzard conditions.
By 8 a.m. today all highways except 204 over Tollgate were open, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Along Highway 204, trees had blown down and some power lines were reported on the road.
State and county road crews worked long hours Wednesday and county crews were out at 4 a.m. today, Bob Kelly of the Union County public works department said this morning.
We kept the county roads open yesterday, Kelly said.
Only North Powder schools were running late today, with classes set to begin by 10 a.m.
But Wednesday afternoon, nobody was predicting that the weather would improve much. Whiteouts reported about 9 a.m. Wednesday forced several state highways to close, including the roads from La Grande to Cove, Union and Elgin. Schools closed early, with La Grande releasing students at 11:30 a.m. Several people were stranded in La Grande for the night.
La Grande Middle School was designated as a shelter for students who could not get home, but a spokeswoman at the school said this morning that nobody stayed the night.
A spokeswoman for the school district said that all parents were contacted because buses were transporting only in the La Grande area.
All the children were picked up by early afternoon, she said.
Eastern Oregon University suspended classes at noon and the campus closed at 2 p.m.
Some La Grande residents found drifts as high as 4 feet against their homes, and at Elgin, the snow depth was 9 inches.
Sharron Tarter, who lives on a ranch along Indian Creek near Elgin, said the wind blew a pine tree down onto a guest cabin in her yard, and a neighbors fences were damaged when a pine uprooted by the wind.
High winds along Gekeler Road near Highway 30 are suspected as the cause of Wednesday evenings power outage that put 6,000 La Grande residents in the dark for about 30 minutes. Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative reported that a main line breaker at the Ladd Canyon substation went out, probably because of high winds that picked up around 4 p.m. on the south side of the city.
Several weather-related outages occurred during the day Wednesday. Trees blowing onto power lines along Hunter and End roads near Summerville caused a loss of power there. Some Cove customers were without power because of trees. The Mill Creek area went dark, as did a few customers near Willow School, said Nancy Van Sickle of OTEC.
Everything was up by 8 p.m., she said.
La Grande temperatures hovered around the high 20s and low 30s for most of Wednesday, but began to creep up as evening approached, rising to the mid 30s.
Its warming up, Kelly said this morning. We should get everything cleaned up by this afternoon.
Todays forecast calls for mostly cloudy conditions, with scattered rain showers and highs up to the low 40s. Tonight will see a 40 percent chance of snow showers, with winds from the west at 10 to 20 mph and low temperatures around 30. Breezy, cloudy conditions with a chance of showers are predicted for Friday.