Storms cause havoc in area

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer December 10, 2012 11:00 am

Snow, ice responsible for several weekend accidents, road closures in Northeast Oregon

Severe winter weather and a spate of crashes kept road crews and emergency responders hopping over the weekend, though no serious injuries were reported.

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Strandberg said snowy, icy conditions were mainly responsible for sporadic road closures throughout the region. 

“All over we had issues, basically your typical winter driving,” Strandberg said. “There were a lot of semis out there sliding around. We had a lot of lane closures and intermittent delays.”

Strandberg said a crash closed the eastbound lane of Interstate 84 in Ladd Canyon for a short time Sunday afternoon. He added that on Sunday night, a mishap on Oregon Highway 82, near Imbler, forced a brief closure of the highway’s westbound lane. 

In other incidents Sunday, ODOT reported two crashes on I-84 near milepost 327 south of Baker City, including one in the early morning that closed the westbound lanes from about 1 a.m. to 5:20 a.m.

Early Saturday morning, ODOT closed both lanes of the interstate east of Pendleton near the Wildhorse Casino exit because of weather and road-blocking crashes. The closure was lifted shortly after 10 a.m.

Highway officials said there was a a fair amount of traffic trouble on the Tollgate Highway between Elgin and Weston on Friday. About 2 p.m., a crash occurred  near milepost 8, though Strandberg said it did not block traffic. Then about 7 p.m., a tree fell across the highway at milepost 20 near Looking Glass Trail. The downed tree was removed and traffic flow restored by 7:25 p.m., Strandberg said. He said there were no reports of injuries in the incident.

In Wallowa County, the Enterprise-Lewiston Highway near the Washington border was closed briefly Saturday night due to a crash and trucks blocking the roadway. ODOT reported both lanes were shut about 8:30 p.m. and re-opened 15 minutes later.

Union County emergency crews responded to a number of minor crashes on secondary roads over the weekend, including a non-injury, multi-vehicle mishap on Fox Hill Road above La Grande Sunday afternoon.

This morning, ODOT reported severe weather hazards along Interstate 84 in the areas of Ladd Canyon and Meacham in Union County. A weather warning was in effect today the Minam Summit on Highway 82.

In Baker County today, a severe weather hazard was in effect along Interstate 84, near Pleasant Valley east of Baker City. In Wallowa County, a severe weather hazard was in effect for Highway 3 in the Flora area.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for rain in northeast Oregon today and Tuesday, with the probability of snow increasing to 50 percent Wednesday. A chance of snow is predicted for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.