BEND, OR -- With several inches of new snow in recent days, it seems winter has finally hit the High Desert. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says plows and de-icing trucks are out in full force. In fact, he says, they’ve been ready for a while, "We did have January to kind of get ready for it because January was a little slow, from a weather perspective. We had our mag brought in, we had our cinders piled up and we had our crews on winter duty. Well, it finally hit and now we’re putting our crews to the maximum 24/7." He tells KBND News, "We’re ordering more magnesium chloride to help us with deicing the highway and our stockpile of cinders looked like Mt. St. Helens, there, for a while, and now it’s starting to get a little bit smaller. So, the resources that we were putting to work had been sort of kept aside because January was nice and now we’re putting them on the highway everywhere we can."
While our snow began melting off with warmer temperatures on Monday, Murphy says other parts of the state are still buried. ODOT sent heavy equipment from Bend to clear Highway 206, between Wasco and Condon, near the Gorge, "There are big drifts of six-foot high snow and we can’t really get a handle on it with the wind that’s blowing. So, we’ve got to pull out our big gun, which is a blower, and ship it up to basically Wasco." Several sections of Interstate 84 were closed Tuesday morning due to icy crashes between Mosier and Troutdale. For the latest closures and restrictions, visit Tripcheck.com.
The excellent conditions at Mt. Bachelor are attracting more visitors and impatient drivers. "We know there’s been a big dump up there; it’s great skiing conditions," Murphy tells KBND News, "So people turn out en masse to get up to Mt. Bachelor. What folks have to keep in mind is that 6,000 of their good friends are trying to share that same road and so it requires people to be patient and stay in line." He's heard reports of people driving the wrong way in the Mt. Washington roundabout in an effort to beat the crowd. "Please don’t do that. You know, that just makes things worse: you’re going to end up in a crash and in reality, you’re not going to get further up the hill because it’s still a line from the Mt. Washington circle all the way up to the mountain."
More snow is in the forecast through this week.