STORM BLAST CLOSES FREEWAYS - AGAIN

December 01, 2001 12:00 am

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

Depending on where, exactly, you live or are driving, today is either windy but doable, or not doable at all.

For travelers along Interstate 5 east or west, theres no movement. Both directions of the interstate are closed between Pendleton and Ontario.

Thats meant a long night at the Flying J Truck Plaza where semis, mobile homes and passenger vehicles are all parked several rows deep.

Its been crazy, said Kevin Haye, an employee at the Flying J. Everybodys here. Nobody can get out. Nobody.

Many other semis were stranded overnight in various other locations throughout La Grande.

This came hot on the heels of Wednesdays storm closing the interstate for more than 18 hours.

At various points during Friday night and early this morning, there were reports that some traffic was allowed to travel. High school sports teams, including Joseph, were able to come east over Meacham in the middle of the night after being delayed in Pendleton.

But drivers at Flying J then heard the Meacham highway was again closed when a truck jack-knifed in windy, slippery conditions before daylight.

Much earlier, before midnight, an accident blocked one side of Ladd Canyon. La Grande Fire Department rescue personnel were called to the scene, but no one had been injured.

In most directions from

La Grande this morning, snow is falling and high winds are reducing visibility to virtually zero.

But it does depend.

Just after 8 a.m., Highway 82 to Enterprise had bare pavement and only a trace of snow, according to Oregon Department of Transportation weather reports.

County highways to Cove and Elgin and Union were also all open, but various amounts of snow were falling.

While the Minam grade had overcast skies and packed snow east of Elgin, the Tollgate highway northwest of Elgin was closed, with a severe weather alert posted in the area because of heavy snow falling and high winds.

Those conditions were leaving the weekend sports plans dangling hour by hour.

The Enterprise boys and girls basketball teams spent the night in Ione, there to play in the Ione tournament. Plans for today were

undecided.

Joseph players eventually got home early this morning from Boardman; the same happened as Wallowa boys and girls tried to get back from John Day.

Powder Valley and Cove boys and girls have canceled todays consolation games at the Union Lions Club Tournament.

For more cancelations, see Sports

The best news of the morning may be that Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative reports that there are no major power outages in Union County.

A spokeswoman for OTEC this morning said that there are some individual homes without power, but its a house here, a house there.