STORM BRINGS BIG WINDS, SNOW

November 28, 2001 12:00 am
MIGHTY WIND TOPPLES BLEACHERS: Powerful winds early this morning blew over the bleachers at the La Grande Middle School field. Surveying the damage this morning is Ted Vandenberg of the La Grande School District maintenance department. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
MIGHTY WIND TOPPLES BLEACHERS: Powerful winds early this morning blew over the bleachers at the La Grande Middle School field. Surveying the damage this morning is Ted Vandenberg of the La Grande School District maintenance department. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The La Grande Breakfast Lions Club cut short its meeting today when the lights went out briefly at Dennys Restaurant.

The lights went on at Dennys, but travelers were stopped in their tracks when Interstate 84 closed about 9:30 a.m. in both directions because of high winds, blowing snow and slick pavement.

Highway 82 from La Grande to Elgin also closed, as did the Tollgate highway. Zero visibility was reported along several county roads.

Schools were open but Imbler officials said they would look at conditions at noon to determine if there would be an early release.

By 8:30 a.m., Ladd Canyon was reporting packed snow and poor visibility, and at Meacham it was snowing hard and continuously.

The winds and snow came along with a major storm that struck the Oregon Coast early this morning, causing wind gusts as high as 80 mph on the headlands.

At the Union County Airport this morning, sustained winds at 18 mph, with gusts to 30, were reported. The wind was strong enough to blow over the bleachers at the La Grande Middle School soccer field.

Several weather-caused power outages were reported early today to the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, but by 8:30 a.m. power had been restored to all areas except Pierce Lane.

The high wind caused the power to go off about 5:30 a.m. in the Sundowner Mobile Park and some areas of Island Avenue near the I-84 overpass, including Dennys and Texaco. About 300 customers were affected, and power was restored at 7:30 a.m.

The snow had not begun by 7:30 a.m. in Wallowa County, but the winds were high and snow showers are expected later today, with an accumulation of as much as 4 inches predicted. High temperatures from 25 to 35 are predicted for the county.

The Union County forecast for the rest of today and tonight is no better than the mornings weather, as more snow and high south winds, 35 to 45 mph, are expected. As much as 3 inches of snow may accumulate, and wind gusts through Ladd and Pyles canyons are predicted to reach 60 mph at times.

The wind probably will continue through the night, but will decrease a little, and by Thursday, winds will blow 15 to 25 mph in La Grande and between 20 and 30 mph in Wallowa County.

Travelers can find current information about road conditions by calling the Oregon Department of Transportationat 1-800-977-ODOT, or by logging on to www.lagrandeobserver.com for a travel link.

Although winds are high, La Grandes low temperature for the night, 28, was fairly moderate for this time of year. The temperature is predicted to climb to as high as 40 during the day.

Snow and rain showers are expected to continue through the week.