Weather causes havoc for travelers

By Dick Mason, The Observer December 23, 2013 10:13 am

Heavy snowfall Friday and inclement weather throughout the weekend caused numerous traffic accidents this weekend in Union and Wallowa counties, including seven that resulted in significant vehicle or property damage. 

Weather caused numerous accidents over the weekend, including this one on Interstate 84. Photo by Andrew Cutler.
Weather caused numerous accidents over the weekend, including this one on Interstate 84. Photo by Andrew Cutler.

“It was a typical severe weather weekend,” said Oregon State Police Lt. Gordon Larson.

Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured in the mishaps, Larson said.

Two of the seven accidents took place on Sunday. The first occurred on Highway 30 east of La Grande at 7:30 a.m., and the second was reported at 8:28 a.m. on Highway 82, three miles east of the Union-Wallowa county line.

Two significant accidents were reported on Saturday on Interstate 84. The first crash happened at 9 a.m. near the Highway 203 interchange, and the second occurred at 11 a.m. eight miles north of North Powder.

Three significant crashes were reported Friday, all on Interstate 84. Each of the crashes took place near the Ladd Creek exit. 

Larson said bad weather caused most of the accidents. He is urging drivers to drive cautiously so they can avoid becoming victimized by black ice.

“You can’t see black ice until it is too late,” Larson said. 

Union and Wallowa counties received varying amounts of snowfall Friday. Topping the list was Minam, where 10 inches of snow fell, according to the National Weather Service. No statistics for La Grande are available but records indicate that the area four miles north of La Grande received four inches. Three inches of snow fell in Elgin, and Wallowa and Joseph received four inches.

The white stuff La Grande received kept City of La Grande snow removal crews busy on Saturday and Sunday. The main downtown streets were first cleared of snow and then crews began removing snow from arterial roads, said La Grande Public Works Director Norm Paullus.

Trucks with gravel followed the snow removal vehicles, dropping the gravel on areas as they were cleared of snow to provide traction for 
motorists.

Public works crews are now working hard to keep catch basins clear of snow to prevent flooding as snow melts, Paullus said. He said there is no danger of flooding as long as the catch basins remain open. Keeping them open, though, is a challenge.

“Sometimes we clear one and an hour later it is clogged again,” Paullus said.