La Grande snow traffic

Motorists take it slow through La Grande on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning through Saturday afternoon for back-to-back storms moving over the area.

LA GRANDE — The Oregon Department of Transportation has warned drivers to exercise extreme caution or stay at home due to the storm hitting Northeast Oregon this weekend.

The storm began late Thursday afternoon, Feb. 11, and may run through late afternoon Saturday.

"Motorists are advised to postpone travel if possible," said Tom Strandberg, spokesperson for the ODOT in Northeast Oregon.

ODOT did not report any serious crashes during the initial day of the first storm. Strandberg attributed this to the visibility of snow.

"When drivers see the white stuff on the road they slow down," Strandberg said. "They are more cautious than when there is black ice or spots of ice."

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for back-to-back storms moving over the area.

The moderate to heavy snowfall continued Friday morning, according to the warning message, before a lull in intensity during the day. But snowfall would increase again Friday night through Saturday.

The NWS also said to expect cold temperatures and single-digit wind chills through Saturday.

Strandberg said he is encouraging motorists to consult ODOT's Trip Check site at to find out about road conditions before traveling. The site has cameras to provide images of road conditions. He said it is now easier to monitor conditions between La Grande and Pendleton on Trip Check because of 10 additional ODOT cameras installed over the past year. This has boosted the number of Interstate 84 cameras between La Grande and Pendleton to about two dozen.

Additional tips Strandberg and ODOT provided include:

• Be ready to use your chains. Be patient. Go slow.

• Expect a long commute that could last hours. You never know when weather or traffic incidents will cause the road to be closed for extended periods.

• Turn off cruise control. Never use cruise control in wet, icy, snowy or slippery conditions.

• Along with snow and slick conditions, expect visibility to be limited.

• Make sure your wipers, headlights, turn signals, heater, etc. are in good working order.

• Keep your fuel tank full (in case you get stuck in road closure).

• Keep your cell phone charged.

• Avoid following GPS navigation directions onto remote or unfamiliar roadways if detoured off of the main highway. Many non-highway routes are not maintained during winter conditions.

• Carry emergency supplies (water, food, warm clothes, flashlight, etc.)

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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