Monday, January 23, 2012/lk
The winter weather many have prayed for has finally arrived. However, along with the beauty and potential fun, the snow and ice bring dangerous road conditions.
At press time, while snow continued to accumulate with the predicted storm moving in, the Hood River County Sheriff's Office had not yet received reports of any serious accidents on county roads. Schools, however, were given a two-hour delay on Tuesday, with potential closures eyed for Wednesday.
Over the weekend however, following the snow's first arrival, accidents and near-accidents were a common occurrence across the county highways.
A dramatic ice-related accident occurred near Tucker Bridge close to noon on Sunday when a car failed to negotiate the ice-covered curve near the Apple Valley Store and slid off the road and onto the bank of the Hood River. No one was reported injured.
On Sunday, according to Oregon State Police reports, several cars were involved in ice-related accidents along I-84 between Hood River and The Dalles.
By evening, ice patches just west of Mitchell point, between Hood River and Cascade Locks, caused several spin-outs - one resulting in a van coming to rest on its roof around 8 p.m.
Sunday and Monday's slip-and-slides are just the beginning as the auto-vs.-ice conflict heats up as while the temperature cools.
According to the ODOT tripchek.com website, a strong low pressure system will move in from the southwest Tuesday night and Wednesday, spreading increasing moisture over the cold air mass that is in place across the region.
This will result in more heavy snow for the Cascades and Columbia River Gorge and may bring heavy snow accumulations.
According to the National Weather Service, there is the potential for a significant winter weather event. As a result the NWS has issued a winter storm warning in effect through 6 p.m. Jan. 18 for the western Columbia River Gorge and upper Hood River Valley.
As snow deepens OSP and the Hood River County Sheriff's Office all caution drivers to slow down, use traction devices and limit travel, if possible.
While a "brief lull in snowfall is predicted for the afternoon and evening of Jan. 17," according to the NWS, "heavy snow should return that night and on through Wednesday.
"Snow will likely be heaviest in the west half of the Gorge through Tuesday then heaviest near Hood River Tuesday night and Wednesday, reaching accumulations of between 6 and 12 inches expected by Wednesday evening.
"Accumulations of up to 18 inches are possible near Hood River and in the Hood River Valley. Strong east winds are expected to develop Tuesday night and Wednesday, with gusts up to 50 mph possible.
"Heavy snow and strong winds will cause significant travel problems in the Gorge. The Hood River Valley will likely see very heavy snowfall rates by Jan. 18, with the potential of making many roads impassable."
Precautionary and preparedness actions are advised for all drivers as conditions worsen. Only travel in an emergency. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, warm blankets and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.